Building upon, inspired by the great Man’yoshu

Heian era Woman with Tengu

Heian era Woman with Tengu

Building upon, inspired by, the great Man’yoshu

It is right and proper to draw inspiration from other poetry. It pulls your own poetic voice into the mystery of love and passion. Therefore, I have taken the words from poems from the great 8th century Man’yoshu and either fashioned an answer…or a continuation of the top poem. What I believe to be termed “call and answer”.

The Man’yoshu’s poems are in bold type. All else are my own poetry. These poems are a small part of poems I am working in this fashion. Most of these poems, both from the Man’yoshu and my own are used to head up the 14 sections of “The Nightingale’s Song”.

The last section is poetry written for the plot of “The Nightingale’s Song”.

Lady Nyo

“My heart, like my clothing
Is saturated with your fragrance.
Your vows of fidelity
Were made to our pillow and not to me.”
—-

Oh my wife!
My feet take me over mountains
In the service to our lord
But my heart stays tucked in the bosom
Of your robe.

Does he know?
Does he know?
Does he know about the letters?

“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.”

Strong man as I am,
Who force my way even through the rocks,
In love I rue in misery.
—Man’yoshu

Perhaps a strong man
Should not offer love without
Having love returned
But this grieving ugly warrior
Still finds his love is growing

–Man’yoshu

“The cicada cries
Everyday at the same hour
But I’m a woman much in love and very weak
And can cry anytime”

—Man’yoshu

My thoughts these days
Come thick like the summer grass
Which soon cut and raked
Grows wild again.

Oh, I wish these
Obsessive love-thoughts
Would disappear!
As they fill my head
They empty my sleep!

I who have counted me
For a strong man
Only a little less than heaven and earth,
How short of manliness that I love!

On this earth and even heaven
This weakness in love
Turns my sword
Into a blade of grass.

Come to me
If even only in my dreams
Where my head rests upon my arm-
not yours.
Let this veiled moon
Above and these dark, brooding pines below
Be witness to our love, my man.”

Come to me,
When the rocks have disappeared
Under sheets of snow,
The moon appears through tattered clouds.
I will be
Listening for the sound of
Your footfall in the dark.

Come to me, my man,
Part the blinds and come into my arms,
Snuggle against my warm breast
And let my belly
Warm your soul.

“ A BAD QUARREL” To be worked into “The Nightingale’s Song”

1.
My soul was blossoming,
Secure in your protective shadow.
I stumbled upon this road we walked
And all was suddenly lost.
Perhaps the fault was I did not
Tightly grip your hand?

2.
Like a ghost under water
Only the moon gives illumination.
Throw a pebble there
And see how fragmented I am.

3.
I can’t look in the mirror
when I awake.
(My eyes swollen with last night’s sobs–
my pillow filled like a lake.)
If I could turn back the hands of the clock,
I would give up those moments of life
To restore lost harmony….
But I dare not look this morning.

4.
It is raining outside,
It is raining within.
Do you think I care about that?
What happened
Has disrupted
all the essentials of life.

5.
Who opened the window?
Who let the bees in?
They are the life
I am avoiding.
Their legs have honey on them!
Too sweet for my present mind.

6.
Outside is a tender spring.
Inside it might as well be winter.
There is no warmth
Generated by memory.

8.
I am told this is a little death
I will have to bear.
Perhaps I don’t want it to end?
Then the thought of living without you,
Or the threat of living With you…..
Would upset my self- pity.

9.
There is nothing from you today,
But then, it was I who moved afar.
I did this from self-hatred,
But found there was enough to spread around.

10.
When I get to the anger
you will know I am recovering.
Not nicely, there will always be scars
and jagged edges,
tokens of our time together.
Do you feel any of this pain?
No, perhaps not.

11.
My laughter is as hollow
as that stricken tree by the pond.
I have not laughed for a long time.
It strangles in my throat.

12.
This morning I awoke,
the first time in days,
Everything sharp-edged–
Eyes were hardened steel,
Mouth a grim line of dead cinders….
But my hands are now steady.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2013

Jane Kohut-Bartels
(aka Lady Nyo)

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7 Responses to “Building upon, inspired by the great Man’yoshu”

  1. Yousei Hime Says:

    Have started my slow luxurious reading thru Man’yoshu. Delicious, just as these are.

    Like

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Good. You will learn a lot about both a culture and poetry.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

  3. Caliban's Sister Says:

    “Who let the bees in?”
    I should never have kept them out.

    “my mouth a grim line of dead cinders”
    and I unable to sweep the hearth

    Call and response–what a fantastic way to work through poetry…

    Like

  4. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! I like your versions better. Funny!

    Thanks for reading….

    Lady Nyo

    Like

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    Like

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    Like

  7. Carlos A. Mitchell Says:

    Are you looking for more information on this poem? Perhaps you are trying to analyze it? The poem, The Nightingale’s Nest, has received 9 comments . Click here to read them, and perhaps post a comment of your own. Of course you can also always discuss poems by John Clare with others on the Poetry Connection poetry forum !

    Like

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