‘The Night Of The Stain’, for d’versepoets.com


Heian era Woman with Tengu

In ancient Japan, (this poem deplicts the situation of a court woman, obviously cast off, in 12th century Heian Japan) and even in modern Japan, the giving of a dildo was a not uncommon gift, between lovers, husbands and wives and even girlfriends.  The Japanese, modest, demure people, have a different attitude towards sex than Westerners.  There are many museums all over Japan dedicated to sexual themes, gigantic phalluses, sex toys, etc.  Many of them are staffed by little old ladies. 

The beautiful woodblock prints of shunga (erotic  ‘how-to’ and with ridiculously proportioned masculine genitalia) were collected, bound and given to newly married couples.  A very early form of porn from Japan, but usually exquisitely made.

The Japanese might be a modest people, but they are no prudes.

Ancient, and indeed much modern poetry in Japan does not have punctuation. I have been playing with this lately, and paring down the words in my poems, trying for the least amount to still carry the poem.

Lady Nyo

The Night Of The Stain

Izumi hid in the willow greenery

Living strands cascading to the ground

Hair of blackbird gloss

Also trailing in the grass

Black and green tangled

In the layers of her hems.

Her maid searched

Full of duty to her mistress.

These peaceful moments now rare.

“My Lady! I found the most beautiful

Robe in the bottom of a chest.

It will be perfect for your wedding.”

Yes, her wedding.

(Better she become a nun)

Izumi parted the willow,

Looked without interest.

Her maid holding

A pale jade silk kimono

Embossed tarnished silver embroidery,

Seed pearls gleaming from

 Gossamer folds.

Izumi’s breath caught in her throat.

Hands trembling

She opened the kimono.

There it was, faded with time-

A blood stain.

He was dead now, her greatest love.

Closing her eyes

She remembered his face,

His hair, black as a raven,

His sandalwood perfume, still faintly trapped

In the jade bo silk.

Through tears leaking

From shadowed lids,

She remembered that night-

His gift of an ebony dildo.

She remembered the night of that stain,

When locked in his powerful arms

She screamed out—

Scattering the servants listening outside the shoji.

She had bled from

The strength of their passion.

Now she was to marry an old man,

Arranged through court.

Scandal and poverty, Ah!

The two banes of life.

She would need the dildo.

She would marry in the stained kimono.

It wouldn’t matter anymore.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

from “A Seasoning of Lust“, 2009, Lulu.com

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32 Responses to “‘The Night Of The Stain’, for d’versepoets.com”

  1. Heaven Says:

    What a lovely tale of passion past.. it is bewitching though sad because the way a woman is treated. Your details of the kimono are exquisite:

    A pale jade silk kimono
    Embossed tarnished silver embroidery,
    Seed pearls gleaming from
    Gossamer folds.

    And that dildo comes in handy indeed.

    (I posted my first tanka today. Can you please give me your crit and feedback? Thanks)


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Heaven!

    I would be happy to look at your tanka….Good for you, once you are on the tanka road, it’s hard to leave! LOL!

    Thank you for reading and your comment about this poem.

    Heian court women were not exactly like gilded butterflies, but they had status depending upon the concubine status. Also, like Ono no Komachi, if they were excellent poets….(of course she is more 8-9th century…I was thinking of Izumi as 12th century) they had better status. In fact, the best poets during the Heian era (8-12th century approx.) were women. Saigyo (man) was also at the end of this era. Personally, I don’t think tanka every got better after the end of the Heian era.

    It is strange the ups and downs of court women. Generally they were attendants on the Empress or the women around the ruling family, and many came from these families at a very early age, some as early as 6. Some were concubines of the Emperor and then of the sons, and passed around in ‘marriage’. Of course, what was considered marriage was very different from our social norms today.

    I believe that Ono no Komachi was the daughter of the Daimyo (think powerful war lord) of Dewa in Northwest Japan. Sent to court to consolidate her father’s power.

    Actually the usage of ‘silk’ in the description of kimono is rather redundant. For this class, silk would have been the standard material. And in the Heian era, women of the court could wear up to 40 kimono, one over the other. The one at skin level was usually white or red, and then the layering begins. It usually ended with an apron on backwards….LOL! I’ve worn up to 4 silk kimono and it’s not comfortable at all…and also hot. Plus, they wore padded (with silk floss) kimono in the winter. They also had to pick out fleas constantly because washing a kimono (still today) means taking it apart and then sewing it back together.

    The silver embroidery is actually something called ‘surihaku’ I believe….I have one black formal kimono that has this wide silver foil impressed and embroidered into the hem. It is very lovely.

    Thank you for reading, Heaven, and leaving a comment.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Pat Hatt Says:

    Wow a post and then a post in the comments. Enjoyed the piece and the tale you spun. But it was great reading the background too.


  4. Joanne Elliott (@soulsprite) Says:

    Love your poetic rendering of this tale. Sad and beautiful at once.


  5. Claudia Says:

    i always love the historical and cultural background you give us lady nyo…i meet many japanese in business life and for us from the western world it’s not an easy to understand culture..it has many layers and sometimes i think it’s the, for outsiders hardest to understand culture in the world…
    enjoyed your poem as always…exquisitely and elegantly woven, there is silk in your verse..


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Claudia!

    I give that background information because the Japanese sure are a mysterious people! LOL! There is a wonderful book, by Ruth Benedict, 1945, The Chry and the Sword…which really was a breaker of the mystery of these fascinating people. It explains so much that we don’t understand, and makes perfect sense once you read it.

    I am lucky that I have an ‘in’ through a previous marriage. I didn’t know then that I would be so intrigued by a culture that is so layered and so ‘different’ than most other cultures.

    It was many years before I realized how much I loved it.

    Thank you, dear Claudia, for reading and your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Joanne!

    Thank you so much for reading this poem and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Pat!

    Sometimes the comment before the poem is the only thing that makes the poem ‘sensible’. LOL! Or, sometimes the further explanation of the ‘era’ , etc, is the only way the poem sings….or makes sense, again. LOL~!

    Thank you, Pat, for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  9. Laura Hegfield Says:

    “She had bled from The strength of their passion.” Such a beautiful line in this poem blend of sweet and bitter.

    I always enjoy the information about Japanese culture that you share.


  10. Luke Prater Says:

    you had me hooked just with the title. Wonderfully engrossing Narrative piece. ebony dildo.. my mind is all over the place…


  11. brian Says:

    what resolution too there at the end..to have loved one with such intensity yet give way to the expectations…even the stain does not matter any more…very nice lady nyo


  12. tashtoo Says:

    I found this to be a truly fascinating adventure! Love the additional notes as well, as having that knowledge allowed me to enjoy the write that much more. I appreciate the efforts in the slimming down of the “wordiness”, as it’s something I’ve been TRYING to work on as well, and thought it worked really well in this particular piece. The presentation was an easy and enjoyable read, that allowed me to truly enjoy the sadness within the storyline, and catch a bit of humor as well. Well done, me Lady! And Happy OpenLinkNight


  13. Daydreamertoo Says:

    Awww what a shame. She knew great passion and then has to marry an old man.
    Lovely write.


  14. ayala Says:

    Jane, your poem a beautiful one. I like that you didn’t hold back and wrote it the way you meant to. A good write !


  15. TheMsLvh Says:

    I am throughly thrilled I came here. What an education. You have opened my western eyes to a culture’s history I was not that aware of. Thank you so much for the insight. The poem is just so beautiful. Again, I am amazed by the poetry I am finding here at the dVerse Pub. I recently found my way, sitting in the corner, watching and reading.


  16. ladynyo Says:

    What a lovely comment, TheMSLvh.

    I do little here, but the culture is so enormous in scope, it is a life time study!

    I am so glad that both of us have made it here.

    Thank you, for reading and your lovely comment!

    Lady Nyo


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala!

    And thank you for reading and your comment!



  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Daydreamertoo,

    Yes, sucks, neh?

    Thank you for reading and your comment! LOL!

    Lady Nyo


  19. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Tashtoo!

    The notes help me as much as other readers…LOL!

    The trying to slim down the wordiness I think is necessary over a longer time of writing. I look at some of my earlier stuff…and laugh. I used so many adjectives….LOL!

    I think with these ‘kind’ of writings, poetry, it helps to pare down the words. Perhaps it’s a particular style, perhaps it makes these sort of poems a bit more authentic? I don’t know but sometimes it helps construct the emotion in a ‘thing’.

    Thank you so much for reading and your insightful comment.

    Lady Nyo


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Brian.

    This went through a few revisions, and I tried to get to the ‘meat’ of the issue. I think it could be redone, but right now….it’s tooo hot!

    Thank you, Brian for reading and your comment.



  21. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Luke:
    “My mind is all over the place.”….as it should be. LOL! The word dildo raises….interest. LOL!

    Thank you, Luke, for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Laura!
    I had a time constructing this poem, not exactly knowing where it was going. Once I let the poem speak for itself…once I got out of the way, it seemed to settle.

    I think this is the way of a lot of things, neh? Getting out of the way?

    Thank you, Laura …for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  23. Charles Elliott Says:

    Stylistically you seem to achieved your goal of keeping this very spare. Lovely!


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you for reading and your comment, Charles.

    Lady Nyo


  25. brenda w Says:

    Oh my Lady, this is a marvelous write. An ebony dildo sounds so cold…though I imagine Izumi will warm it, a lifetime with lifeless passion….ew.


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Brenda!
    You nailed the underlying stuff behind this woman’s plight!

    Thank you so much for reading and your very insightful comment.


    Lady Nyo


  27. safehousepoetry Says:

    This is powerful! I love your abrupt and realistic closing: “She would need the dildo. She would marry in the stained kimono. It wouldn’t matter anymore.”


  28. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you….considering her plight, there didn’t seem any other ending.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  29. Kavita Says:

    My gosh…what a tale of sadness, Lady Nyo! Her pain must be horrid! And for so many reasons too… for having lost the love of her life, for having to live with his “gift”, AND for having to marry another whom she didn’t even care for… I hope this sadness never makes its presence in anyone’s life.. really! I cannot imagine how one can overcome it.. a lot of strength must be needed.. no? wheww

    You have narrated this tale so beautifully.. the emotions came flowing out at me… amazing!!


  30. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Kavita!

    Actually, this probably was much the fate of many court women in the Heian era. I’m more than guessing here because reading something of this era in Japan, there were so many woman sent to the court as attendants and there was a lot of temptations.

    Marriage was different than what we have today, couples didn’t live together, sometimes even in different towns. An of course the arrangements were many times just political, to consolidate power.

    Thank you so much Kavita, for reading and your insightful comment. We might see Lady Izumi again in another tale.

    Lady Nyo


  31. Liras Says:

    Nothing like a gift that keeps on giving! *grin*


  32. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Liras!

    Yep, you got that right!

    Good to hear from you!


    Lady Nyo


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