Autumn Cometh, Poetry, and Placating Unseen Gods and Demons.

Autumn in Kyoto

Autumn in Kyoto

Poetry has its seed in the human heart and blossoms forth in innumerable leaves of words….it is poetry which, with only a part of its power, moves heaven and earth, pacifies unseen gods and demons, reconciles men and women and calms the hearts of savage warriors.

Ki no Tsurayuki, Preface to the  “Kokinsuh, Ninth Cent.

The combination of heat and the tasks of summer sapped me of any poetic inspiration.  Perhaps the cat and dog fights of summer has helped there.  The 84 foot moat outside our dining room certainly helped disrail any peace and tranquility, perhaps the best soil for poetry.

Then we just await conditions to change and we get back into that ‘exit of the spirit’ as the Japanese say about the art of nuido, Japanese embroidery.  Surely that should be the same process for poetry, Japanese or otherwise.

Tomorrow is the first of Autumn.  I am putting together a small but growing manuscript of only poetry.  Works written over the past 3 years.  I have the title: “White Cranes of Heaven”.  But these poetry cranes are flying all over the pages right now.  They won’t settle down for a good look-see.

If people have read my poems, either in  “A Seasoning of Lust” or some posted here, they will see a Japanese influence.  I was a member of ERWA for three years and learned the different forms of poetry under the gentle mentoring of Gary Russell.  As did Nick Nicholson and a few others.  Gary put us through our paces on choka, tanka, haiku, sonnets, freeverse, (which ain’t necessarily free…) cinquains, more sonnets, etc.

The tankas seduced a couple of us.  I didn’t know until later the history of tankas; that they were written to celebrate victories in battle and love, for religious reasons.  The development of the form: nagauta or ‘long poem’ , was used for public celebrations at the imperial court.

I’m trying to expand outward, spiriling slowly and haltingly, stylistically.  But that’s mostly an issue of form.

I am hoping the magic and power of Autumn will break open my heart.

Lady Nyo


Autumn night winds
Hiss over land, round corners, under  eaves.

Clashing windchimes add sharp discord
As bare branches answer with
A grating groan.

Above all,
The Moon casts a feeble light
Too thin to fatten the road.

The rain does not cease.
It runs to stone gutters,
First splashes at my feet
And gurgles out to sea.

Jane, 2009

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12 Responses to “Autumn Cometh, Poetry, and Placating Unseen Gods and Demons.”

  1. Berowne Says:

    You might enjoy this at

    John Keats, To Autumn

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;


  2. ladynyo Says:

    I did! and thank you.

    Keats is not one of my favorite poets of that era, I find his writing rather too wordy, but I think that is just a matter of taste and the fashion of the times.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Margie Says:

    I love autumn. I always feel more energetic, more creative when the oppressive heat of summer (especially in the South) breaks into the cooler evenings and crisp mornings of the autumn season. I love the way you put it – “break open my heart” – exactly right.

    Hope you guys are okay with all the flooding going on down there. Stay safe.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hehe….that’s the woman poet in me….’break open my heart’.

    But I think that applies to all of us, if we just claim it. Men, too…but they usually don’t.

    Thank you, Margie…..Autumn is too short a season, hedged in by torpid summer too long and a chilly, cold winter without the benefit of snow…just a little if we are lucky. Though last year March 1st…we had the most beautiful of snows….6 inches of very wet snow…stuck on everything…transformed this old neighborhood into something that looked like a Japanese village.

    Autumn is a magical season. The turning of the leaves, the winds, the crispness of air, the energizing of the animals…we call it ‘frost on the pumpkins’…as the dogs come out of their summer stupor.

    the Rains!! Horrible..and 6 people at least dead. How many dogs/cats and wildlife??? And most of this was in the urban areas….homes got it bad…a young woman returning from the night shift yesterday at 5am was swept off the road and drowned in her minivan….calling 911 until she died. Trees are down…and 137 roads are closed because the asphalt has collapsed and sink holes are keeping whole communities from leaving or entering. Some places are without power. And still it rains.

    However, right now….the sun is out and it’s especially bitter when this happens…knowing that rain is coming in forcefully tonight.

    Thank you, Margie…for your comments and your concern.



  5. shia1 Says:

    Great poems, Lady Nyo. I love fall and these captured it so well.

    I really enjoy your poems you are so gifted to see things in different dimensions.



  6. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, shia! you are so kind…especially since there are people who tell me they DON’T like my poems…..LOL! Lots of them…. mostly men.

    And that happens to be true…but as our friend Nick Nicholson said this morning from Australia….”Jane, you have to write to your own taste and vision, and let the others fly.”

    Yep….and I have thought a lot of poetry lately, shia…about how much I’m not writing…and I want to get that going, too. I didn’t write the thing I love most to do now for 4 months…just was emotionally exhausted…this spring and summer…and now, with the fall, I’m perking back up.

    I am trying to attend to metaphor and other issues more in the poetry….bringing them through without the unevenness I am guilty of, and other poetical issues….but it’s just a learning process..that’s all form and style. You have to have some ‘spark’ …something has to spark your interest or you don’t write poetry…or you just are interested in yourself and you write endless mourning love poems…or remembrances…which are ok, but not the only vision a poet has….hopefully.

    I never thought there was a dividing wall between prose and poetry, but now I am seeing many examples of fine prose writers (mostly men, too) who don’t have a touch of the poetical in them at all. I can think of two right off the top of my head…no, three. All fine writers, but they don’t ‘see’ poetry except perhaps a little bit. And they don’t apply their hand to it, either.

    Well, perhaps women are better in this by nature…I don’t know…

    Thank you for reading the poems and for your comments, shia. They are always delightful and informative.

    Lady Nyo


  7. Berowne Says:

    > Well, perhaps women are better in this by nature

    Hey, it’s not easy to manage a ‘domineering patriarchal world’ and a bunch of people who are constantly engaging in ‘small subversive acts’ at their looms. There’s not much time left over for creative stuff, though I seem to recall a few examples of good poetry written by men over the centuries.
    Or perhaps men are just better at appreciating it.
    (Chuckles slyly to himself…)


  8. ladynyo Says:


    “engaging in ‘small subversive acts’ at their looms…….LOL!

    Yes, perhaps men are better at appreciating poetry and women– the better poets.

    Lady Nyo


  9. Berowne Says:

    > men are better at appreciating poetry and women– the better poets

    There ya go. Oh, it’s the life of the drone for me, for me…
    BTW did you know “Samuel Butler argued that a young Sicilian woman wrote the Odyssey (but not the Iliad), an idea further pursued by Robert Graves”?


  10. ladynyo Says:

    No I didn’t, but then again, Robert Graves was a bit ‘out there’ I believe.

    Thanks for the site, Berowne.


  11. Berowne Says:

    > Robert Graves was a bit ‘out there’ I believe

    True; and The White Goddess is so speculative as to be almost a work of fiction. But it absolutely grabbed my attention as a teenager, and it led me to the monumental ‘Golden Bough’ by Sir James Frazer. The idea that mythology, and even religions, could be the object of scientific inquiry was like a thunderbolt. But WRT Homer, if there was a single individual who composed all of the Iliad and the Odyssey, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know. My guess is that various tale-tellers added to a core story known from legend. There’s a bunch of related stories known as the Epic Cycle which have either disappeared or remain only in fragments; Homer or some other woman 🙂 may have composed those as well.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    I recently watched a BBC episode that was absolutely riveting. It was the physical tracing of the “Odyssey”, based on the mythology. They landed somewhere around Russian Georgia, where the shore was ‘iron’. Sure enough, the commentator used a magnet on the sand/rock and it was iron. And so it said in the “Odyssey”.

    The physical presentation of the journey, with islands and landings we could now recognize gave this ‘myth’ all the reality of today pulled from the past.

    I remember being excited by this. It gives substance to those things we read or study and brings them alive. When we see these myths made real, we are able to reach back and claim that past as the foundation of our present existence.

    I went to Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology” to read something about the Greeks, and she says the Iliad wasn’t written more than 1000 years before Christ, and was a definite break in portrayal from the Egyptian: Greek mythological creatures were men and women and didn’t hold the terror that Egyptian Gods did…these creatures were formed from humanity.

    I have a copy of the Odyssey around here but it’s early and dark yet and I can’t see much. I believe this is part of oral history and tradition, much like the Celtic myths…passed on and down through the centuries, and yes, adding to the core story known from legend.

    Bards, or poets of any culture would be adding and weaving more into any core myth.

    Of course, the Iliad was the first written record of Greece, and Greek mythology started with Homer, according to Hamilton.

    I haven’t read “The Golden Bough” but it sounds like it was a revelation for you.

    Oh, and the Epic Cycle myths were also mentioned in this program.

    Lady Nyo


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