‘Lady Nyo’s Torment’

A continuation in the series of Lord and Lady Nyo.

The poems used are a combination from the Man’yoshu and my own.


Lady Nyo’s Torment


 “I stay here waiting for him

In the autumn wind, my sash untied,

Wondering, is he coming now,

Is he coming now?

And the moon is low in the sky.

The only company I have tonight,

Now near dawn, is the paling Milky Way,

And Oh, my husband!

There are not stars enough in the heavens

To equal my sorrowful tears.”


Hana Nyo pulled her quilted robe from her head.

It was just a dream, just a dream. 

Then why does my heart pound so?

Two nights before

Lady Nyo and her nurse

Spent the hours til dawn

Watching the flame rise and fall

Through the shoji of Lord Nyo’s room,

Watched the candle

Consume the poems he was writing to whom?

“Ah, he has another woman!”

Her nurse was loyal but leaned

On the privilege of time.

Lady Nyo’s heart took flight.

Fear and shame dueled

In her blood, pushing reason

From her head.

Did he know?

Did he know?

Did he know about the poems?

Did he know of the vanished lover?

For two days it rained.

November rains poured like

Waterfalls off  eaves,

Broke  stems of the chrysanthemums,

Scattered  flower heads,

Blew great gusts of wet wind into her room,

Blanketing an already sorrowful mind

With a seasonal fury.

Lord Nyo had ridden out

The dawn after

The Night of Burning Poems,

Dressed for hunting,

His falcon on his glove,

Not a word of farewell,

Not a baleful glance in her direction.

She watched him mount his horse,

And gallop away.

She watched from the slits of bamboo blinds,

Like a thief or a beggar,

She didn’t know what she was,

Only felt the sharp sting of shame,

A particular loss of something she probably

Never had.

Lady Nyo spent the day reading,

Her misery reflected in an unpainted face,

Tangled hair,

Shunning food as sacrifice.

The pain of her torment

Was not lessened.

Once I did believe

That no love could still linger

Within my heart

Yet, a love springs from somewhere

And forces itself on me.”


“My eyes have seen you

But I’ve yet to hold you close

You’re like a laurel

That is growing on the moon

And I don’t know what to do.”


Yes, and I don’t know what to do.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011


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39 Responses to “‘Lady Nyo’s Torment’”

  1. Richard Cody Says:

    Compelling and poignant reading.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Richard, for reading this poem.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Margie Says:

    These are very complex people! I’m still rooting for Lord Nyo, which surprises me, because in the beginning I thought him cruel an d selfish. But his struggle with poetry touched me.

    This is a lovely style of writing, Jane. Every word counts, and you have strung them together beautifully! Can’t wait to read more.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Margie,
    I was just going to call you….LOL!

    So glad you like these series of poems….I guess this is now becoming (slowly) a series.

    Lord Nyo: I see him as a bear of a man, though not tall, stumbling around in samurai armor…LOL! The humanizing touch of poetry on him is what I believe is the ‘heart’ of this series…..though I don’t know from poem to poem what will happen later.

    Yes, he’s cruel and selfish, but I think he hates that about himself, and it sickens him. Maybe.

    I think my style of writing these poems is very much influenced now by my (bad) attempts at reading them in the original Japanese. There, certainly, built in this language, every word does count. So reading this, (with a translation cause I’m not THAT good…lol!)….it does impact you style.

    Thank you so much, dear cousin, for reading this and your lovely comment.



  5. wayside word garden Says:

    Emotional, I hear and feel Lady’s torment, and I love how this flows so easily and effortlessly… an enjoyable verse in the continuing saga… Loved this line “You’re like a laurel /
    That is growing on the moon / And I don’t know what to do.”
    Those lines capture beautifully that feeling of helplessness and of something out of reach.


  6. brian miller Says:

    you have such a fine way of story telling lady nyo…i feel the emotions and hope for them…and fear for them as well…he certainly seems conflicted as she is finding herself to be as well…nice…


  7. hedgewitch Says:

    He burned the poems? Just when he was starting to become human? Sigh. I love the combination of the italicized lines–I’m guessing that’s the Man’yoshu material–and the longing, suffering and questioning of Lady Nyo; the ultimate in depression, not doing your hair–been there. Really enjoying this series, Jane–the characters are complex and alive, very real, even though very foreign (in their culture.)


  8. SuzyQ Says:

    startlingly beautiful…these lines hold such delicate and fragrant beauty…”November rains poured like

    Waterfalls off eaves,

    Broke stems of the chrysanthemums,

    Scattered flower heads,”


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Hedge!

    Well, he was burning poems, but that was because they weren’t ‘right’. LOL! I think he’s becoming humanized in spite of himself….slowly. LOL!

    The top poem (dream) was a combination of the Man’yoshu and my poetry.

    Thank you, Hedge, for reading, your interest in this series, and your lovely comment.




  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian,
    well, we will see…LOL! I am as surprised at their behaivor and thoughts as just about any one else, except my cat(s). They have him figured out.

    The conflict grows and perhaps it becomes a comedy of manners? I don’t know yet.

    I am so glad you are feeling their emotions and have hope for them….they are us, just a few (many ) centuries removed. I don’t know how long I can trail out this story, but I am going to try. They interest me, too.

    Thank you, Brian.

    Lady Nyo


  11. River Says:

    As Brian said you are a great story teller. I will have to find to go back and read previous. 🙂


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Hello River!

    it’s so good to hear from you. Have missed you.

    Thank you for reading this poem, and your comment.



  13. claudia Says:

    awesome…much enjoying the series of Lord and Lady Nyo.


  14. Pat Hatt Says:

    I love how you just start and suck the reader into your story, you really have an art to your stories, another fine addition.


  15. Gay Says:

    Loved seeing this on your blog. It’s so dimensional, like a movie, but more–modern in the conscious stream, and ancient in the reserve, the setting, the mood, and the mode. Lovely, elegant, exalted verse, my friend.


  16. Jerry Says:

    Lord Nyo better reel himself in….geez, to give poetry to another when the Lady inspired him so. Lady Nyo…may your heart mend strongest where it is broken!


  17. Heaven Says:

    I really enjoy reading your series…you weave so much emotions and conflict with a few words…Thanks for sharing this ~


  18. Yousei Hime Says:

    I am smitten, and I will be back for more.


  19. Kathy Bischoping Says:

    The stanza that begins with rains like waterfall off eaves, and the broken mess of the chrysanthemums had some of my favourite imagery. I also liked her watching through the slits in the blinds. And above all the curious laurel growing on the moon. Indeed, no one could know what to do.


  20. Joanne Elliott (@soulsprite) Says:

    A story well told and shown in this tapestry woven of words and feeling. I’m enjoying this series. Thank you for continuing it.


  21. Shashi (@VerseEveryDay) Says:

    Dear Lady Nyo…

    what a wonderful epic story… gems of thoughts in longing, love and desperation in your verse… and I loved your lines…

    ‘There are not stars enough in the heavens

    To equal my sorrowful tears.”’

    What a lovely imagery… and then the last two para’s were exquisite. Thanks for sharing..

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya


  22. ladynyo Says:

    You are very welcome, Shashi.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  23. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Joanne,

    Thank you for reading and your inspiring comment. I am enjoying this, too…but I haven’t a clue how it ends…..LOL!

    Lady Nyo


  24. ladynyo Says:

    I am so glad you like this series, Kathy.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  25. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, Yousei Hime,

    Thank you for reading and I do hope you return. I just have to write more on these folks.

    Many thanks,

    Lady Nyo


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Heaven!

    I am so glad you are enjoying what has become a series…LOL!…it started with just one ‘alone’ poem, but went on.

    Thank you, Heaven, for reading these poems and for your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo


  27. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Gay,

    Words like these, from such an exalted poet as you are, well, they are precious indeed.

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



  28. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Pat….

    The various cats helped….LOL!

    I’m having fun with this series, Pat, learning like all the rest of us.

    Thank you Pat, for reading and your inspiring comment.

    Lady Nyo


  29. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Claudia…

    I’m walking a plank here….don’t know from week to week what they will do, but I am just about as surprised as readers.

    This is fun, but I don’t know where it will end.

    Thanks, Claudia …for reading and leaving a comment.



  30. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Suzy Q,

    LOL! I didn’t realize that those words you quote were almost in tanka form….LOL!

    Thank you, for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  31. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Wayside,
    That poem is from the mighty Man’yoshu…it is so beautiful, that it figures in later I think….

    She is helpless, with a flood of emotion and regret in her being right now. She really doesn’t know what to do.

    Thank you so much for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  32. ayala Says:

    You have such a gift for storytelling…this is beautiful!


  33. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala….

    sometimes it comes more easily than others…this series is getting harder right about now.

    Thank you for reading and your comment, Ayala.

    Lady Nyo


  34. Charles Elliott/Beautyseer Says:

    I begin to picture this series of poems handpainted on ricepaper with suitable illustrations in Japanese style. A truly elegant work! Especially since we who have read previous ones suspect that Lord was writing and buring poems to his Lady Nyo! Nice.


  35. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Charles….well, you got it. I think there was some confusion for some readers as to what Lord Nyo was doing or to whom he was writing his poems to. Well, I like your vision of these poems very much.

    Thank you, Charles for reading and your lovely comment. I happen to be working on a watercolor right now for the cover of the collected poems of Lady/Lord Nyo. We will see how far I can take this series.

    Lady Nyo


  36. The Orange Tree Says:

    what a passionate piece,
    the longing is obvious and well presented.



  37. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you!

    There is more to come.

    Thank you for reading and for leaving a comment.

    Lady Nyo


  38. Nick Says:

    Hi Jane, this poem sucked me right into the story from the get-go, with its luscious imagery and palpable emotions. The sense of Lady Nyo’s “torment” came through very strongly.

    I wasn’t sure what these lines meant exactly: “Her nurse was loyal but leaned / On the privilege of time.”

    Also, the lines “Did he know about the poems? / Did he know of the vanished lover?” clearly indicate an important plot point which, I gather, emerged in an earlier poem which I haven’t read.

    Overall, a terrific piece and I liked the use of the poems-within-a-poem!

    Nick 🙂


  39. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Nick!
    I was hoping you would read this series…well, some poems that have become another damn series! LOL!

    This reference to the nurse: She is old…and leans on the priv. of her age.

    Yep, that “did he know about the poems” relates to a small section previously….the “Lady Nyo’s Temptation” written before this series. I have to figure a way to incorporate that interchange between her invisible lover and her. They exchange poems..and it’s really pretty funny….but it needs to be enlongated into a series piece to tie in the relevance.

    Well, I am glad you like this series, Nick. We have years of reading each other and supporting each other and your opinon counts greatly with me. As you know. LOL!

    There is three more poems….longer ones that sums up the cycle. Overall, my interest here became a way to highlight the Man’yoshu poems within my own poetry. I wanted to draw readers and other poets to this marvelous manuscript from the 8th century. I am finding such a rich vein to write from in there.

    Thanks, Nick…for reading and your comment. Hope to talk with you soon.



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