“The Nightingale’s Song”, End Poem in this series.



 (above, and early 20th century woodblock postcard)

For Margie.

The Nightingale’s Song


Perhaps a strong man

Should not offer love without

Having love returned

But this grieving ugly warrior

Still finds his love is growing


The rain ceased,

A cold light appeared

Dappling the ground beneath the gingko-

Like an indigo yukata.


Lord Nyo tiredly

Watched the morning grow,

His old bones stiff

As the autumn chill crawled up his spine;

Slow-moving, gait-crippling snakes.


Geese flew through peach clouds,

Their cries falling like chiding rain.

Paired for life these geese–

Like a man and woman should be.


His falcon,

Sitting in a bamboo cage,

Head tucked under a wing,

Feathers plumped against the

Raw morning breeze

Would want to hunt;

Lord Nyo preferred his warm bed.


Un-hooding the falcon,

Placing the bird on glove,

He launched her in the air,

Watched her circle the firmament

Soar in wide circles.


How beautiful!  How free!

Glossy feathers, sharp eyed,

She gave a shrill hunting cry

As she scanned earth.

She would come to his call,

A loyal bird–

She would not fly away.


Why did his wife not fly away?

As beautiful as this falcon,

As desirable by beauty,

Wit and breeding as any–

Yet she remained with him,

If not on his glove.


Once I did believe

Myself to be a warrior

Though I have found

Love has caused me to grow thin

Since my love was not returned.


The problem was this:

He could not bend,

Tightly laced in the armor,

In service to his own lord.


Ah, if she were here

We could listen together

To the sound of passing geese

Crying in the rising sun.


All day Lord Nyo cast his falcon

Into the air.

She brought down birds,

While he flushed out rabbits

Until his saddle bags

Were full, heavy.



His mind did not turn

From poems flowing

From the river of his heart.


Although a warrior

I am lying and weeping here

While I make for you

A comb of willow branch-

Let it adorn your hair.




My longing for her

Is a thousand waves that roll

From the sea each day

Why is it so difficult

To clasp that jewel to my wrist?



If from her mouth

There hung a hundred-year-old tongue

And she would babble

I still would not cease to care

But indeed my love would grow.


All day Lord Nyo

And falcon hunted,

Until darkness fell

And still he loathed

Returning home.

He struggled so hard.

What was of stone?

What was of flesh?

He remembered an old

Verse from the Man’yoshu:

Instead of suffering

This longing for my loved one

I would rather choose

To become a stone or tree

Without feelings or sad thoughts



He was neither stone nor tree

He was a man,

In sore need of the comfort

Of hearth and home,

And especially a loving wife!


Near dawn,

When birds awoke-

Began their morning chatter,

Lord Nyo turned towards home

Came through the wicket gate

Standing open, expecting him.


A bright cup of moon

Was low in the eastern sky,

Grinning like a demented god,

Through the morning fog.


Banji wa yume.

All things are merely dreams.


His  wife on the veranda,

Quilted robe thrown over her head,

And only a small- wicked lantern

Did light her.


Lord Nyo slid off his horse

And bowed deeply to Lady Nyo,

A gesture without words

A gesture not needing them.


Lord Nyo mounted the steps

Pulled his wife to him and

Arm in arm,

They entered the house

To pillow in each other’s arms

While the uguisu–

The ‘poem-singing’ bird

Welcomed them from her

Branch in the ome tree.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011






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39 Responses to ““The Nightingale’s Song”, End Poem in this series.”

  1. The Noiseless Cuckooclock Says:

    A bright cup of moon

    Was low in the eastern sky,

    Grinning like a demented god,

    Through the morning fog.

    very lovely imagery,
    what a story for night gale.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  3. The Orange Tree Says:

    well written story.

    admire the details and the elegant ending.



  4. Heaven Says:

    Lovely series….. in a end, I am happy to see them together. You use a lot of metaphors like falcon and poem-singing bird, to express the character’s thoughts and emotions….Thanks for sharing this ~


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Heaven.

    This series made me stretch.

    I am very glad it’s over, though. It’s hard to keep this going, because right now….???

    Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Orange Tree.

    Thank you for reading and your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo


  7. Morning Says:

    It is great to see you share with us.

    your imagination is extraordinary.



  8. Nick Says:

    Hi Jane,

    What a lovely way to end this series! A happy ending, but not overwrought, but rather, subtle and tender. Let’s hope that Lord and Lady Nyo can look past their anxieties and fears and just write love poems to each other 🙂

    Thank you for presenting this enchanting series of poems, Jane, well done! I look forward to seeing the printed version in due course…



  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Nick!
    I am so glad you stuck with this series til the end. And glad you like it.

    There will be more from the Nyos….you know me. Can’t leave well enough alone…and with a mystical twist. LOL! We’ve been down that road before.

    Now the hard work: some rewriting and also the illustrations….it will be a while before this will get done, but dear Bill is on board for the formatting this spring.

    Thank you, sweetheart, for reading these and your lovely, encouraging comments!!




  10. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Morning.

    Thank you for reading and your supportive comment.

    Lady Nyo


  11. Steve Elsaesser Says:

    All is well that ends well! (Too bad ‘all’ does not always end well?)

    I copied this line to repeat here–it zoomed right into my inner places, heart and soul:

    “…Instead of suffering
    This longing for my loved one
    I would rather choose
    To become a stone or tree
    Without feelings or sad thoughts…”

    Thank you for Sweet Writing.


  12. Kathy Bischoping Says:

    I am a latecomer to your beautiful series but enjoyed each of the five or so that I read. I’m glad to see above that there will be more about this couple.


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Kathy,

    Well, thank you for reading and your comments. I am glad that you have enjoyed them so far. I have a germ of an idea for continuing this series…I just am not finished for some reason. Another chapter, though.

    Thank you again.

    Lady Nyo


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Peace, dear heart.

    And thank you for reading and your comments…they go deep into my own heart.

    The Man’yoshu is such a treasure trove of poems, ideas, messages. That one was from this text. I thought it particularly masculine.



  15. Pat Hatt Says:

    Glad they made it through all the pain and things thrown in front of them to a wonderful end. Happy endings are always nice, really liked how you drew everything to a close of sorts too from start to finish.


  16. hedgewitch Says:

    So many fine images in this, drawn unerring and smooth–the gait-crippling snakes, the bracelet that can’t be clasped, the stiff lacing, the hawk so free that yet returns, bringing with her sustenance, and of course, the ending, where we see the hope that whatever spark or thread exists between people, it can be found again if lost. A truly beautiful series Jane–whether it ends here or not.


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you so much, Hedgewitch.

    I learn more about my poetry through the eyes of others than I do from writing it. Thank you so much for reading this series and your very, very helpful and supportive comments.



  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Pat,

    You know what? I think for most of us ‘serial’ poets….lol….we don’t have a clear idea in the beginning or the middle, and only by trusting the characters of our poems….do they bring it all together. I could have never plotted this.

    I like happy endings, too.

    Thanks, Pat.



  19. brian Says:

    yay yay yay i just want to dance at loves victory and that poetry invaded his heart…he found his muse and his love….big SMILES!!!!


  20. brian Says:

    i could tell you how well you wrote this so i will just settle for being happy…


  21. tashtoo Says:

    Fantastic! I can imagine the compulsion to stay with these characters for just another page or two. They are alive, breathing, and with your wonderful writing, we are invested in their world and their trials and tribulations. I suspect we’ll follow you just about anywhere at this point…THANK YOU for breathing life, love and torment into such an amazing series. All’s well that end’s well…or is it 😉


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Tashtoo!

    Thank you! They seem alive to me, too. LOL! This next series of poems will be mystical I think….something like that..lol.
    Have to write them first, but I have to think a bit.

    Thank you for reading and your lovely, supportive comments.

    Lady Nyo


  23. ladynyo Says:

    Dear Brian,
    I’ll settle for happy, too!

    Thanks for reading this series.

    Lady Nyo


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Yeap, Lord Nyo has changed…somewhat.

    Thanks, Brian, for reading and your comments over the course of this series.

    Lady Nyo


  25. ManicDdaily Says:

    How wonderful that he will love her even with the babbling tongue. K.


  26. ladynyo Says:

    LOL @ K:

    I wondered when someone would pick up on that poem. It’s my favorite from this series…..after all, he’s an old warrior, not a refined court poet!

    Thanks for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  27. Richard Cody Says:

    Beautiful as always.


  28. Laura Hegfield Says:

    Jane what a beautiful series you have created. I love the entry you create into both Lady and Lord Nyo’s hearts. You are so gifted. Thank you!


  29. ladynyo Says:

    thank you so much. But I am so new to this form (poetry) that I am running on just guts….

    I want to continue this series…at least another chapter about the Nyos, and the longing of life and aging and loneliness. Isn’t it funny, that here we are in the magical age of technology but our alone-ness can be as prevalent as it was centuries before when the only form of communication was letters and poems?

    Thank you, Laura, for reading and your lovely commments.



  30. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you Richard, for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  31. Charles Elliott/Beautyseer Says:

    I love this whole series. While he hunted, and when he returned to the house and found her on the porch, I expected one of them to die of a broken heart without ever communicating their truth desires. Your ending is much more low key.

    He was neither stone nor tree

    He was a man,

    In sore need of the comfort

    Of hearth and home,

    And especially a loving wife!

    — Seems to remain a secret only known to HIM.

    I really admire your use of the poems within the poem in this. Lovely stuff!


  32. claudia Says:

    a poet and a warrior…love all the images here, love the way he goes, the blending of reality, emotions and thoughts until he gets home and finds her waiting…moved me deeply… excellently written..


  33. waysidewordgarden Says:

    Lovely, gentle prose… wonderful storytelling… so they are together at the end! Love how you use the falcon in this piece. Sigh… a happy ending!


  34. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, thank you!
    The falcon was a symbol of freedom and independence….and of loyalty.

    Thank you for reading and your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo


  35. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Charles!
    That poem within a poem idea made this rather easy….having the Man’yoshu to pick from meant that I just had to weave some of the emotional elements around these poems….that carried it further than I could have done myself I believe.
    I wanted to base this poem series in the reality of marriage and life: there is plenty of ‘action’ with him being a samurai in the service of a daimyo anyway…so to make it more….accessible to us, I wanted there to be drama but yes, more of a misunderstanding and low key.

    By the way, I LOVED your reading of your Fog poem on Youtube. I would love to hear this own series read by you. I tried to do this with a couple of friends, but either my voice stumbled over the words, or I started to cry at some of the poems….LOL! You are very impressive in your poetry and also your deliverance.

    Really enjoyed listening to you yesterday.

    Thank you so much for reading this series and for your lovely, supportive comments.

    Lady Nyo


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  37. caridwen Says:

    What a beautiful poem! Thank you so much for posting this!


  38. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you for reading, Caridwen.

    Lady Nyo


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