"Lessons of the War I: Naming of Parts" is a poem by British journalist, translator, and poet Henry Reed, written during Reed's experience training as a military translator in Japan during World War II. It was published in the New Statesman and...
Henry Reed, known today for his poetic accounts of World War II, was not only a poet but also a translator, journalist, and dramatist. Reed was born in Birmingham, England in 1914 and educated at the University of Birmingham, where he was a member of literary circles, earned a BA and then an MA, and completed a thesis about Thomas Hardy. Though he worked in journalism and education following his time at the University of Birmingham, he was soon drafted into the British Army following the beginning of World War II. He would spend much of his time in the military working as a translator of Japanese, using his interest in languages for military intelligence purposes.
During his time in the army, Reed wrote several of his most famous poetic works, many of which critiqued war and militarism. These works included his best-known poem series, "Lessons of War." Reed produced only one full-length poetry collection, A Map of Verona, (1946). Despite his relatively small output, he remains known for his sharp satire and understated wit.
Following his army service, Reed worked as both a contributor and broadcaster for the BBC, and was particularly known for his radio dramas, especially the well-known Hilda Tablet series. His dramatic works have been collected in the books The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971) and Hilda Tablet and Others (1971).
Today, Reed's papers are stored at the University of Birmingham.