Lord Nyo’s Continuing Lament, Part 7, from “The Nightingale’s Song”

Samurai Lovers, #2


Lord Nyo’s Continuing Lament, from “The Nightingale’s Song” Part 7


Lord Nyo galloped away-

He did not go far.

Armed with two swords,

His bow and falcon,

He halted at the edge of a grizzled field,

Autumn rain mixing with tufts of chaff

This harvested field

Forlorn, abandoned.

The scene fit his mood.


Sitting under an old gingko,

Only a few yellowed, fan-shaped leaves

Tiredly holding on to life,

He pulled the bone-white fan

From his breast

And thought of poems

He vaguely remembered

From his youth.


What had seemed so right

The night before,

When he had taken his brush

To the task of reforming a life

Now in the cold rain

Under cover of gray morning,

Was more like folly–

The desperate hopes of an old fool.


What good was this brushed fan

When between man and wife

Was a sea filled with misery?


When hidden by bamboo blinds

He spied his wife quietly sitting,

Mending a gown,

Quilting a warm tunic,

While around her

Her women tittered like birds,

Laughing and playing finger games

While she,

Pale face serene,

Sat peacefully at work.


He remembered the early years

When he would enter her quarters,

Pick his way carefully across the mats

Larded with colorful lumps of sleeping women

And pillow her in the dark

Unmindful of the snores

And nightmare-groans of her women.


He remembered her reading

Poems to him,

And shyly reading some of her own.

He marveled at her fertile mind.


She never carried a child.

He could have put her aside,

Taken another wife for heirs–

Yet he didn’t.


One old poem kept turning his brain.

A poem a thousand years old,

One that spoke deeply:


“This body of mine

has crossed the mountain barrier

and is here indeed!

But this heart of mine remains

drawing closer to my wife”


Lord Nyo reached inside his breast

And uncurled a paper

Plain, rough in texture,

And read what he had

Written,  the one 

He did not burn.


Her voice sings

Like a bird beneath the leaves

Of a fall mountain.

If she’d only speak to me

What would we have to grieve?


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2013
















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8 Responses to “Lord Nyo’s Continuing Lament, Part 7, from “The Nightingale’s Song””

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    This is so moving. poor Lord Nyo. How does he get back across those colorful lumps of sleeping women, back to his wife….beautiful and powerful.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! this was common living quarters in the 17th Century Japan. A Lady would have her women surrounding her, and the husband would make ‘visits’. Rarely did they live together, especially of this class. Peasants did, or course, and merchants built houses in the towns…and married life was different…but a court woman, of which Lady Nyo is part of Lord Mori’s court, would live in a compound probably. It changes later in the story, maybe, I can’t remember…LOL!

    Lord Nyo suffers a bit more (as he should…) LOL!

    Thank you for reading and your comment CS.

    Lady Nyo…but not THIS Lady Nyo in the story.


  3. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Yah, I got my Lady Nyo’s sorted out. xoxoxox


  4. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Good. Hugs back!

    This humidity wilting LN.


  5. Caliban's Sister Says:

    It’s been like a steam bath out here. Are you and DH able to get to the shore at all? How is he doing lately? And how is that Sasha doing? Fattened up by now?


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Whoa! Until yesterday, the summer has been very pleasant…and unusual for August! Yesterday and today, a steam bath like you! LOL! Ugh…AC going full blast and still only partly helping….going outside is unsafe!

    We were so spoiled by what came before these few days, but the mold and mildew all over is showing from the constant rains for months!.

    No~! We are landlocked in Atlanta…and any shore is hours and hours away…but this fall, by hook or crook, I intend to see the ocean..the Mother of Us All.

    Sasha! Oh, was a wonderful little kitty. Very steady, not a pest now, has fallen into the cat routine here, though DH calls him “Nibbles” because he runs up and bits you on the nose. Annoying, especially when you are asleep. DH is adjusting to the ‘extra’ cat very nicely…I didn’t expect him to do so….but I think he’s given up on all these adoptions! LOL!

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and we will talk again, soon.



  7. TR Says:

    Hi Lady Nyo,

    That also struck me that he had to climb over the woman to get to his wife – the other woman wait on her because she is a member of court?

    Hugs, TR


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR! Yes, Lady Nyo is a member of Lord Mori’s court. She would be because her husband, a samurai in the service of Lord Mori, is an advisor and general in his army. She would also be given the respect as a samurai family….and also her lineage is Fujiwara…an old name and clan in Japan…and once powerful. She is a distant relative, though. Lord Nyo makes mention of this coming up.

    A woman with this exalted position, (through marriage) would have servants, women to attended her, or just kept her company…companions. Some probably would be distant relatives, or women with lesser status in court. They would weave, embroider, attend silk worms, etc. They also would gossip, play games, etc. They probably would be called upon to entertain with poetry, and depending upon the formality of the particular court (this would vary depending upon region) perhaps they would play the samisen, or sing/dance. Lord Mori’s court is stuck up in the North Western mountains, around Gassan (Moon) Mountain, and I would think it would be rather provincial.(Think Snow Country…where snows are not melting until June/July). So there would be no lessening of rank for a woman like Lady Nyo to be called upon to present her poetry…Poetry was especially honored in a court situation. Or to entertain the court with her playing samisen.

    As you will see, they do have their own house…but generally the women would sleep together in a large room. Hence, the colorful lumps on the floor. They would be sleeping on tatami mats, snoring away. Probably most of these women would be widowed, or very young, without beaus yet.

    Interestingly enough…sexual contact was pretty common in a ‘group’ setting like this. Women didn’t disrobe completely…there were layers of kimono to get through, so they could have sex just sitting up, or sitting on the lap of their lords. LOL!

    Earlier, in the Heian period , say 10-12th century Japan, married men and women didn’t live together. They lived separately. Perhaps the women lived in a compound attached to the court, and the husband had to make sneak visits to their wives…but I think this generally breaks down in the 17th century and beyond.

    Thank you, TR, for reading and your comment!

    Hugs back!

    Lady Nyo


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