‘Lord Nyo’s Continuing Lament’ Part 5, from “The Nightingale’s Song”

"Moon Child" from "The Nightingale's Song", Part II

Ome  is Plum in Japanese…as in Plum Tree. 

Kami  is a spirit, or demon…sort of.

Uguisu is one name for the Bush Warbler, or what stands in for the Nightingale.


Lady Nyo

Lord Nyo’s  Continuing Lament, Part 5


Lord Nyo was known

For three things:




He was attempting a fourth:


It wasn’t going well.


Leaving orders not to be disturbed

(He would have only tea and rice)

The servants thought their master possessed:

Possessed by a demon!

Possessed by an uncaring kami.

Who didn’t know sake was

The life-blood of their master?

What was next?

Would he throw aside his two swords

And take the tonsure– become a monk?


By the pale light of a moon

Too thin to fatten the road,

Lord Nyo applied himself

To brush and paper

His face a terrible scowl,

His tongue gripped between his teeth,

The air peppered with grunts and soft curses.


The bullfrogs outside called to him.

He remembered this same effort

Decades ago when his Priest-tutor

Attempted to refine his calligraphy

When all he wanted was a sharp stick

To gig frogs.  Ah!


Through the night

Lady Nyo and her old nurse

Watched from across the hall,

Watched the candle flare up and die

As Lord Nyo burned each poem,

Knowing his words inelegant

Sensing his mind too dull to enflame

The love, forgiveness, passion of his wife.


Towards dawn the cry of an uguisu

Pierced the dark,

Singing against the light

Of that watery moon,

The ‘poem-reading-bird’!

In a blossoming ome

Outside his window.


Her song went deep,

Rendering him helpless,

Stilling his whirling head,

Refreshing his heart.

It was such a simple thing.


Being of the world

He missed what was important.

Nature, in the form of a simple bird,

In the form of a tone-poem,

Was offering an answer:

A path to redemption

If only he would listen.


Lord Nyo picked up his brush,

Stroked it across the stone

Into the puddle of watery ink,

And with his wrist bent properly,

Wrote this character:



(Emptiness, a void, forgetting the forms of the material world.)



It was a start.

It was what the little bird sang:

Of emptiness, the void,

The return to his nature, to Nature,

That  finer nature,

Before the grizzled warrior–

The void where hope was possible,

Where his life could begin.


He slept that night

Listening to the frogs of his childhood

And the nightingale in the plum,

Both bathed in the watery moonlight.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2013

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “‘Lord Nyo’s Continuing Lament’ Part 5, from “The Nightingale’s Song””

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Just breathtaking Jane. This one is just wonderful–
    “being of the world
    He missed what was important”

    “knowing his words inelegant,
    Sensing his mind too dull to enflame”

    Not a single wasted word here. Complete, lean, elegant, moving. Well done. love CS


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, CS….for reading this poem and your commentary. I think when you study haiku, and tanka….it rubs off…sometimes. Poetry could also learn from writing ‘flashers’…200 word stories..not just scenes…but complete stories with beginning, middle, ending. Doing flashers, because you are limited to a certain word count (it can also be 100 words, which is harder) makes you mindful of what you are saying, writing…every word has to count in some way. No waste.

    These poems get more involved, psychologically with the characters, and I hope they hold together. This series has been my favoirite to write and the problem is ending it. It does have an ending, but I didn’t want to quit! I grew to love this “ugly old warrior”. LOL!



  3. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Archery, drink, temper, poetry. But you gotta love the guy for trying to write poetry to his delicate and lovely wife, no? xxx


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Yep! He’s quite a character. But of course, at this time, and actually for centuries before, writing poetry was a signal that a man was refined…not just a weapon of war for his daimyo.Flower arranging, the tea service, etc. So….his attempts at this would be ‘normal’….though for an ‘ugly old warrior’, this is a pain in the nether region. It’s not so out of character, but he’s straining mightily to do so. Writing poetry was a mark of more than refinement, too. In a court situation, it could make or break a man.

    Lord Nyo knows that he has blundered mightily with his wife, and he has come up lacking…so he is attempting something to express his love. We will see how it turns out. LOL!

    Thank you, CS, for continuing to read these episodes. They warm up in the following.

    xoxo Lady Nyo


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  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you.

    Lady Nyo


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