“The Battlefield”, from “The Nightingale’s Song”, Part 11

Samurai in Battle on Horse

 

 ” The Battlefield”

There’s no gap or break
in the ranks of those marching
under the hill:
an endless line of dying men,
coming on and on and on….

Saigyo

 

When the news of Lady Nyo

Birthing a son

Reached Lord Nyo

He was far from home,

To the east,

Over mountains

In dangerous, alien territory.

A general in the service

Of his lord,

The gore of battle,

The issue of ‘dying with honor’

Began at first light,

The air soon filled with sounds of battle-

Dying horses, dying men

Drawing their last gasps of life,

Churned into the mud of immeasurable violence.


The river of death
is swollen with bodies
fallen into it;
in the end of the bridge
of horses cannot help.

—Saigyo

 

 

Death, not new life

Was before his eyes at dawn,

And death, not life

Pillowed his head at night.

 

A battle rages around me,

But inside this old warrior

A battle rages inside my heart.

It is heavy with sorrow,

So tired beyond my old bones.

 

What good have we done

In watering the soil

With blood and offal

of sons?

 

He stunk with the blood of battle

As his bow and swords cut a swath

Through men in service to another

And when the battle horns went silent,

With tattered banners like defeated clouds

 Hanging limp over the field,

Acrid smoke stained everything

And the piteous cries of the dying

Echoed in his ears.

He wondered if his life would end here.

But the gods that he didn’t believe in

Were merciful

And his thoughts turned from fierce, ugly warriors

Towards home and a baby.

Still, he could not leave.

He was caught by status

The prestige of his clan

And could not desert the

Fate set out for him from his birth.

Ah! This was fate of a man in servitude

To his Lord Daimyo.

This was the fate

Of a man chained to Honor.

 

Still, in the darkest hours of the night

The soft and perfumed shape of his wife

Floated down to him from the fleeting clouds,

Came to him through the smoke of battlefield fires,

And he turned on his pallet

To embrace this haunting comfort.

 

Off in the distance

There I see my loved one’s home

On the horizon.

How I long to be there soon

Get along black steed of mine!

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012 (October 17th, 2012)  2013

 

 

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5 Responses to ““The Battlefield”, from “The Nightingale’s Song”, Part 11”

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    What a beautiful rendition of a man in servitude to a masculine cultural fate, that bends only toward death and stench and filth of war, while his feelings now are moving only toward his wife. He owes the debt to honor, but his feelings belong elsewhere. Powerful and haunting. xo CS

    Like

  2. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Did you paint the watercolor? Gorgeous.

    Like

  3. ladynyo Says:

    Good Morning, CS.

    I am so glad you got to read this today. It’s the next to last episode in this series: It is hard to write about battle scenes not of our culture and time, but then again, I would imagine that the death and horror of any war translates into some understanding.

    The Samuria were especially interesting to study. The culture was one of ‘giri’..as is much of Japanese culture today. That pyramid of loyalty, with the Emperor or Daimyo on top, and then all else falling underneath this. A Samuria family had the responsibility to follow their husbands loyalty, and samurai wives were held to certain standards. So, Lady Nyo does not escape the rigors of her husband’s job. her head could go the way of her husband’s if their Lord daimyo was displeased. If I remember right, and I probably don’t…there were about 26 daimyo’s scattered through out Japan at this time. Each was effectively a warlord with lots of terrain. The problem was that the daimyo’s would rather fight with their neighborhood daimyo for turf, etc…so the Emperor decreed that each daimyo visit him in Kyoto every 2 years. They had to stay as court attendants for 6 months or so. Considering the distance that most of these warring daimyos lived, it was a six month trip to the capital. It was a brilliant stragety on the part of the Emperor, etc. to do this. Cut down on raiding and warfare between daimyos. However, they continued to raid and plunder because the farther flung warlords lived in places (mountainous) that were hard to travel to. Plus, it was habit well established for centuries.

    The next and final episode of “The Nightingale’s Song” will be “Lord Nyo Meets His Son”. And then I’m finished. Yay.

    Hugs,
    Jane

    Like

  4. bf4 emblem Tutorial Says:

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every bit
    of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new stuff you
    post…

    Like

  5. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you.

    Lady Nyo

    Like

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