Back when the Mixpanel lit club read East of Eden (which is amazingly good, by the way), we got to the part where Adam is in the Army —
Adam spent his next five years doing the things an army uses to keep its men from going insane—endless polishing of metal and leather, parade and drill and escort, ceremony of bugle and flag, a ballet of business for men who aren’t doing anything
— and it reminded me of Henry Reed’s 1942 poem “Naming of Parts”:
To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.
The full poem, annotated, is here; it includes an annotation explaining what exactly is a “piling swivel” and why the men have in this case not got one.