‘The Temptation of Lady Nyo’, posted for d’versepoets.com


The character Lady Nyo (from the unfinished novel, “The Kimono”) has attracted an admirer at court.  When attending court, women were secured behind open, ornate carved screens, or painted and decorated silk screens.  Since these women were ladies-in-waiting of the Empress and other relatives, they were allowed to attend events and to be called upon for various activities there. Dancing and playing music, reciting poetry were especially desired by the court.  They spent a lot of time behind these screens arranging their layered hems and sleeves of their many kimonos, (usually 12 ); colorful, scented butterflies to lessen the boredom of a routine court. 

Of course it was also to attract admirers:  married women led in this activity and poems were left (placed in the carvings of the screens) next to the hems of a desired women by a courtier, etc.  Poems, tanka, were inked upon fans and also left where they would be found by the desired.  (in her carriage was one place). 

It was necessary for the success of an admirer that the verse be considered ‘elegant’ and the stationary appropriate.  Perhaps a branch of a budding cherry or plum tree was attached or in the fall, long marsh grasses or colorful leaves.  Not only the poetry and layering of seasonal color in kimono was applauded, but the mixing of perfumes appropriate to the season was also of great value.

Lady Nyo has a certain ‘revenge’ upon her brute of a husband.  She has attracted the interest of a particular man, but she must show her distain first.  The level of his poetry would determine  whether he would be of any interest to her.  In most cases, the man would not be revealed as to whom he was until that first visit at night in her bedroom.  Sometimes it would be the husband who would coming courting. 

The Temptation of Lady Nyo




Yesterday I found a fan with a poem

Stuck in the screen.

Today I found another one placed

On my cushion at court.

Do you have a death wish?

Do  you desire the death of me?

You know my husband is known for his temper.

Would I end my life so dishonored?




I see you are as persistent

As the rain in Spring.

Have you no fear?

What is your interest?

Surely I am just another painted face.




I read your poem.

I could do nothing else.

This time it was inked upon

MY fan.




“The wind blows from the north

Chilling my heart.

Only the thought of a touch of your sleeve

Warms me.”

Very nice, but my sleeves are not interested.




“I throw acorns

To the darting carp.

With each nut I say a

Prayer for your health.”

Lovely sentiment, and I am

Always grateful for prayers,

But do you think of my reputation

And what you risk?




I see no poetry this morning

Though I searched for your usual offering.

I knew your interest was as capricious

As a flight of moths.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2011, from “A Seasoning of Lust”, published by Lulu.com

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28 Responses to “‘The Temptation of Lady Nyo’, posted for d’versepoets.com”

  1. Margie Says:

    Ah, the conflicted heart. She says “no, no” but can’t help show just a little disappointment when he listens. I do remember this one, but like it a lot. Can’t wait to hear Lord Nyo’s side!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Margie!

    LOL! this was a lot of fun to write….because of that conflict….I like the last poem best….

    Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment. Lord Nyo gets his chance next week, hopefully.



  3. johnallenrichter Says:

    Oh, how sad… She misses his poems after chiding him for her fear of her husband. I think I would definitely leave Lady Nyo a poem or two after knowing this about her….. how endearing…… Of course, I’m a afraid of Lord Nyo…..


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi John~!

    LOL! What I love about this series is the way readers are commenting: heart felt! It’s so encouraging when you read these comments. Readers are investing emotion into them and that means the characters have a certain reality to them. This is so encouraging for a writer, as you know. Creating believeable characters isn’t easy, but drawing from what we know of human nature, and perhaps our own experiences, well, that can bridge the gap.

    Obviously, this ‘admirer’ is a trifler…LOL! And if I was a man, I would be afraid of Lord Nyo, too. He seems quite the brute, but I think I have met him before….However, this character might just surprise us next week.

    Thank you, John, for reading and your lovely comment. These kind of comments make the work of writing worth it because they ‘speak’ to readers, besides the writer.

    Lady Nyo


  5. Pat Hatt Says:

    Comparing to that of the flight of moths, interesting image there. The guy really has nerves of steal or thinks he’s too good to get caught and Lord Nyo won’t go off with his head..haha


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Pat!

    Actually, a married woman (of a certain class) had a lot of leaway here. Should could take lovers, but of course she had to use discretion. Marriage during the Heian era and later was not the standard we have today: many times the couple did not live together at all. Visits were made by the husband to the wife….by appointment.

    This admirer could also be samurai and that would make a very interesting ‘duel’.

    Thank you, Pat, for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  7. brian Says:

    or perhaps his head will arrive in a box a bit later…smile…a nice dance of courtship…so interesting the leaving of poems like that…secreted…the intimacy of getting it as close as the fan is nice too…sad like moths it flutters away….


  8. waysidewordgarden Says:

    Enjoying the escapades of Lady and Lord Nyo (I thought I commented last week– how much I enjoyed your piece– but I don’t think my comment made it?) Anyway, this “flirting” with the notes on the fan, etc, is quite charming, would be nice to see more of this kind of subtlety in today’s world!


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Yes it would! LOL!

    Last week (and already this week) there was a big problem with posting comments….mine and many others apparently…something in the phases of the moon? Dunno.

    I have been encouraged to continue to extend this short series of Lady/Lord Nyo’s life….next week will be something of Lord Nyo’s confusion.

    Thank you so much for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian….

    Yes, a war between two samurias would be interesting….of course it would also be between two families….Yikes!

    Thank you for reading and your always insightful comments.

    Lady Nyo


  11. hedgewitch Says:

    I so like her carefully thought out, aloof replies to the emotional statements in the poems, then in the end she shows her own interest along with her scorn and emotion. ‘Capricious as a flight of moths’ is just a great line, too. Loved this, Jane. The introduction was fascinating as well.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Hedgewitch,

    I get so excited when others ‘get’ these characters! LOL!…It makes me so happy because it’s really something to share, and I find that rare in life on the internet!

    Thank you so much, Joy, for reading and your always insightful comments!



  13. claudia Says:

    you had me right from the beginning with the poem on the fan and cushion…how romantic is this…and then the danger on the other side..the fearless hero…sad he lost interest so quickly..


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Claudia!

    I think her admirer decided that Lord Nyo was indeed, as his reputation proceeded him: a brute.

    More trouble than it was worth. LOL!

    Thank you, Claudia, for reading and your comment.



  15. Sarah Johnston Says:

    This is wonderful the conflict heart, I am so sorry that her fearless hero has lost interest so fast I hope to read more of this poem in the weeks to come it is like a novel that is done in chapters but this is done in verses of poetry so well written may I add


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sarah!

    This is a lot of fun right now, because these characters have their own voices…(sometimes they are sulking and totally unapproachable) LOL!

    I don’t know what to make of this series because it seems to please and appeal to readers, and myself, but I don’t know how much I can go forth with them. I guess as long as they have conflict and interest it’s possible.

    Next week, I hope Lord Nyo can chime in with his own ‘story’.

    Thank you so much for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  17. Morning Says:

    “The wind blows from the north

    Chilling my heart.

    Only the thought of a touch of your sleeve

    Warms me.”

    Very nice, but my sleeves are not interested.

    stunning writing, yet it is sad. thanks for sharing.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Morning,

    Yes, it is sad, but true to life, neh?

    Thank you for reading and your comment. Always appreciated.

    Lady Nyo


  19. Charles Elliott/Beautyseer Says:

    Lovely, and I like the way she seems disappointed when her suitor takes her no for a no.

    Wanted to see the fans, though. Usually they have decorative motifs that apparently have some significance. The top of the handle of the fan, I am told, symbolizes the beginning of life and the ribs stand for the roads of life going out in all directions to bring good fortune and happiness. Would the type of fan she found the love notes in or on be significant?


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Charles!

    Yes, our Lady Nyo sounds rather unhappy when no was finally understood to mean no. Perhaps his attention was pulled elsewhere?

    I think you are on to something about the fans. My understand is the presentation of a white, blank fan is an invitation to write love notes and poems back and forth. Sounds lovely, neh?

    I have a number of fans, from China but I like the ones from Japan mostly. They have colored paintings on the front and calligraphy on the back….in black.

    Some are just a black and grey ink painting of a tree or landscape on the front and blank on the back.

    I don’t know though, I believe there must be much more to this passing of fans around. This could be a nice area of study?

    I do know that a poem on an appropriate piece of stationary wrapped around a blossom or stem was appraised probably before the suitor was known. This could go on for a while as this seems to be some sort of cultural foreplay. LOL!

    Thank you , Charles…for reading and leaving a comment that makes one think.

    Lady Nyo


  21. Liras Says:

    Lady, what a beautiful and ethereal piece. Light but full of meaning, with so much unsaid, under the surface!

    I am especially drawn to the line about the moths! They go to a flame but then fly away, as fast as they come, as well.

    Like lust and at times, love.

    Congrats on being seen on d/verse poets!


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Liras.

    I am so glad you liked these short verses. I am pleased at how this character, (and her husband) are starting to ‘talk’. LOL!

    Moths/flames/lust/love. Exactly.

    Lady Nyo


  23. Jannie Funster Says:

    Hi Dear Lady Nyo,

    I love that the power of poetry ruled the culture back then. (and still does for many of us.)

    12 kimonos sounds like a nice wardrobe.

    And yes, I love that she is disappointed when the poem does not arrive as hoped. Ahhhh, triangles and the woe they cause.

    The novel is great! I hope it gets finished? I can see the movie already — an epic. Classic and beautiful.

    And my dear, YOUR sidebar button shall I make and post next. Yes, I really shall. I’ve made a note to myself.



  24. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Jannie,

    Since I have recently discovered your poetry blog, I find a great treasure chest of excellent verse and sentiment. It is a relief and pure joy to visit and read your blog.

    Oh Jannie! You and me and the bedbugs hope this novel gets finished. Actually for the past two weeks, since the weather here has cooled, I’ve been writing and rewriting the damn thing. I think by this next summer it should be ready for some publishing attempt. This time, not Lulu. For many reasons.

    As for culture? It’s a rabbit hole that you fall down and never hit the bottom…that is the research into culture. Never ending. I can’t understand people who say they hate history…as if lumping it all together would justify their opinions. LOL!

    Thank you so much Jannie for your insightful and delightful comments,…always.

    Lady Nyo


  25. Steve E Says:

    So real, so simple to relate by any reader–who has a heart, a soul, and wonders ever “what if…”

    It is a joy to relax with your thoughts-turned-phrases, Jane. Thank you!


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Steve.

    Lord Nyo might have his own poem tomorrow. We will see. He’s being a bit difficult at the moment.

    Some readers who are new to the “Lady Nyo” series think this Lady Nyo is this writer…but it’s a character from a still unfinished (I should live so long) novel. So, these thoughts, phrases, are hers..not mine. They reflect her condition.

    Thanks, Steve.



  27. Gay Reiser Cannon Says:

    I love her humanity, “Don’t throw bouquets at me” occurs to me. Of course, she’s enjoying being courted by an anonymous suitor. The thought that her minor protestations could throw him off is somewhat disappointing mixed with a sigh of relief. Finally got to read this. Can’t wait to scroll up for the next installment! Gay


  28. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Gay!

    From what I have read of Heian (and further) court behavior, that this pull and push of notes, fans, etc. could go on a long time….LOL! She has mixed feelings about this ‘feet of clay’ suitor, as George said, her husband is obviously a brute….and this suitor probably has gotten the word.

    I think because these men were either courtiers or samurai, and sometimes both, there were a lot of possibilities for violence, and the point of all of this was to be ‘civilized’. Kind of hard with men walking around with two swords.

    There are some marvelous poems, tanka, actually, in “100 Japanese Women Poets” that express the position that court women found themselves in: they had power but they were also walking a fine line in every aspect of their lives. Their reputations could be ruined even by the casual wave of a sleeve observed by some sharp nosed court official.

    Thank you, Gay, for reading these poems and your very helpful comments.



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