poetry

Naming of Parts, by Henry Reed

One poem that I particularly like (and have hanging outside the door of my lab) is “Naming of Parts” by Henry Reed; it contrasts a lesson in military weaoons with a flowering plant.
My classroom looks out on a flower garden and I often think of this poem as I spot another student gazing wistfully out the window as I waffle on about the finer points of electromagnetic induction.

Naming of Parts

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.

I posted this on a Physics teachers’ forum a number of years back and one reader was so impressed by the poem that she immediately adapted it to her own lesson. I obviously wasn’t the only admirer of her work – the adapted poem appeared in the journal “Physics Education” shortly afterwards. I haved included it here with the kind permission of the author.

Induced emf

Phoebe Wales

To-day we have induced emf. Yesterday,
We had motor effect. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have eddy current braking. But to-day,
To-day we have induced emf. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighbouring gardens,
And to-day we induced emf.

This is the flux density. And this
Is the flux, whose use you will see,
When you differentiate it with respect to time. And this is the cosine of the angle,
Which in your case you don’t need to do. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in your case you don’t need to do.

This is Lenz’s law, which is just an addition
To what Faraday had already said. And please do not let me see
Anyone using the wrong units. You can derive them quite easily
from SI units. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see them
Using the wrong units.

And this you can see is how quickly flux changes. The purpose of this
Is to calculate the emf. We can apply it
To an isolated wire: this creates
A pd between terminals. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
A pd between terminals.

They call it Fleming’s right hand rule: it is perfectly easy
If you have any spatial awareness: take your right thumb,
And first finger, and second finger, and the directions they point,
Clearly give you the answer; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have induced emf.

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The Chemistry Hour

 

The Chemistry Hour

 

Gerard Bullett

 

Now let me praise, not famous men,

But men who, for little reward,

Scattered the floor of my dusty pen

With crumbs of truth from a cherished hoard,

And in particular him who came,

On Tuesday and Friday, praise the Lord,

Hoping to set our hearts aflame

With natural science, combustible stuff.

 

Snobs every one of us, lost to shame,

We saw he was shabby and thought him rough.

He wore a beard instead of a tie.

His proud experiments never came off.

And when we applauded, wild with joy,

The splintering glass, the loud explosion,

Anger burnt in his ageing eye

But how to quell us he hadn’t a notion.

Lost, bewildered, a baited bear,

He’d stand and suffer loud commotion,

With fluttering hands would stand and swear.

 

Our regular rioting got him the sack,

Tuesday arrived and he wasn’t there:

Some were regretful and felt his lack.

A gentle spirit, fatherly kind,

He always took his punishments back

At the end of class, if only you whined,

Or else forgot them as soon as given,

Having no room in his large mind

For misdemeanours, for sinners unshriven,

For impositions, for ‘lines’ and such;

He would forgive until seventy times seven,

 

O rare Mr Robinson, I owe you much:

You taught me more than I knew, although,

Of chemistry, nothing remains in my clutch

But the watery marriage of H and O.

 

Sticks and Stones

This was left by the photocopier recently and I thought it was pretty cool;

Truth

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can also hurt me.
Stones and sticks break only skin,
While words are ghosts that haunt me.

Slant and curved the word swords fall
To pierce and stick inside me.
Bats and bricks may ache through bones,
But words can mortify me.

Pain from words has left its scar,
On mind and heart that’s tender.
Cuts and bruises now have healed;
It’s words that I remember.

By Barrie Wade