I need a vacation. I also need to rewrite this series. In October, Nick Nicholson is coming from Canberra to spend time and we are to work on this book. He is doing the graphics. I am so happy because, frankly, I need new eyes for this piece. Rewriting is my task, and he, with his eagle eye, will come up with photos to suit the different poems. Or something like this.
Collaborating is something new for me, but with Nick, a friend of over 7 years, this should prove interesting. Regardless how much work we get done, it’s good to have a friend here to consider life and its possibilities.
For the next couple of weeks I am going to post this series of poems…from the beginning to what I believe is the end. I started to do this before and life got in the way. So, I’ll attempt this again. Some of these ‘chapters’ are rough, and some pieces stick out of the story and need lopping shears. We will see.
The Introduction to “The Nightingale’s Song”
In Old Japan there was an even older daimyo called Lord Mori who lived in the shadow of Moon Mountain, far up in the Northwest of Japan. Lord Mori ran a court that did little except keep his men (and himself) entertained with drinking, hawking and hunting. Affairs of state were loosely examined and paperwork generally lost, misplaced under a writing table or under a pile of something more entertaining to his Lordship. Sometimes even under the robes of a young courtesan.
Every other year the Emperor in Edo would demand all the daimyos travel to his court for a year. This was a clever idea of the honorable Emperor. It kept them from each other’s throats, plundering each other’s land, and made them all accountable to Edo and the throne.
Lord Mori was fortunate in his exemption of having to travel the months to sit in attendance on the Emperor. He was awarded this exemption with pitiful letters to the court complaining of age, ill health and general infirmities. He sent his eldest, rather stupid son to comply with the Emperor’s wishes. He agreed to have this disappointing young man stay in Edo to attend the Emperor. Probably forever.
Lord Mori, however, continued to hunt, hawk and generally enjoy life in the hinterlands.
True, his realm, his fiefdom, was tucked away in mountains hard to cross. To travel to Edo took months because of bad roads, fast rivers and mountain passages. A daimyo was expected to assemble a large entourage for this trip: vassals, brass polishers, flag carriers, outriders, a train of horses and mules to carry all the supplies, litters for the women, litters for advisors and fortune tellers, and then of course, his samurai. His train of honor could be four thousand men or more!
But this tale isn’t about Lord Mori. It’s about one of his generals, his vassal, Lord Nyo and his wife, Lady Nyo, who was born from a branch of a powerful clan, though a clan that lost standing at the court in Edo.
Now, just for the curious, Lord Nyo is an old samurai, scarred in battle, ugly as most warriors are, and at a loss when it comes to the refinement and elegance of life– especially poetry. His Lady Nyo is fully half his age, a delicate and thoughtful woman, though without issue.
But Lord and Lady Nyo don’t fill these pages alone. There are other characters; priests, magical events, samurai and a particularly tricky Tengu who will entertain any reader of this tale.
A full moon, as in many Japanese tales, figures in the mix. As do poetry, some historic and some bad. War and battles, love and hate. But this is like life. There is no getting one without the other.
The present Lady Nyo, descended from generations past.