The Night Poems of Lady Nyo

A Courtesan's fleeting life of beauty.

Lady Nyo is a character I created,  a 17th century Japanese court woman, around 30 years old,  in a good marriage.  She is a character in a novel I am almost through writing, called “The Kimono”.  She, like all the elite women in Japan of that time, constantly wrote verse (usually tanka).  That was the mark of a virtuous and educated woman.  In fact, in court circles, a woman was not considered educated until she had written 1000 poems.  She also had to commit them to memory and be able to recite them in the court.

The present Lady Nyo who isn’t so productive in poetry.

Everyone is asleep.

There is nothing to come between

The moon and my shadow.

From the dream where we made love,

My laughter calls me back.

I searched all around,

My eyes then full of tears.

I fell asleep thinking of him

And he came to me.

If I had known it was only a dream

I would never have awakened.

I lean on my elbow

And look at him asleep,

His bosom rising and falling.

It is enough to feed eternity.

Clouds sweep the moon,

Causing its light to dapple you.

My love! You waver before me

Like a ghost under water.

Did you see the moon tonight?

It rose like a blood orange

and scented the heavens

even from where I stood!

The moon as dawn breaks

glides smoothly through dark clouds.

I hug my shoulders,

apprehensive at the new day,

comforted by the old moon.

Last night I tied my kimono,

bound it with a red silk rope

like an impassioned lover’s hands around a wasp waist,

and kneeling upon a cushion,

awaited the rising of the moon.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

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4 Responses to “The Night Poems of Lady Nyo”

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Love this poem. “waver before me like a ghost under water.” So beautiful. xx


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hey CS….these are a little old, but they are a relief from a lot of stuff here. Have been working on a novel all summer for publication next spring. This “A Kapitany” I started 7 years ago, and because of the original theme, I never thought I would finish it. Just dropped it. But now? Many shifts in character behaviors, and it is very different.

    I go to the Japanese literature for stress relief. LOL!
    I will post more Japanese style writing later this week.

    Thank you for reading. Hope you are well, know you are busy.

    Don’t know if you got to “The Zar Tales” but there was a lot of humor in that novella. Is one of my favorites.

    xx, Jane


  3. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Hi Jane, I didn’t have time to get to the Zar Tales, I’m sorry! Been bushwhacked with work lately. But love stopping in for your beautiful poetry. Always an oasis for me. xo CS


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS….know you are so busy. Sorry you didn’t get to “The Zar Tales”. Though I published it 4 years ago, it is one of my favorite pieces. The writing could have been better, but hopefully we progress and learn.

    It’s up there, but certainly isn’t ‘to taste’ for many people. I happen to like the ‘suspension of reality’ in work but again, it’s not for everyone. There are a few references to Persian literature, and perhaps that throws people. Today, these things are not read or even known, but they form a foundation for much literature to come. And of course, I focused on the Zar ritual which is extremely important for women in these areas and that is why the shari’a law is trying to punish women who attend or hold these psychologically and culturally important affairs. I had hoped that American women would read this, but I do know that belly dancer friends have, mostly Turkish and Egyptian, and they have because they know the history and psychological importance of this ritual. They don’t have access to psychologists like Western women, so they make do with the cultural avenues they can. And perhaps, they get more ‘healing’ than we do. They certainly get more connection with women on this basis, as it’s hands on, not through an electronic media. Perhaps there is a ‘demystification’ also in the zar ritual where we don’t get with the myriad approaches with modern day psychology.

    Poetry, as we have discussed, is easier for readers. Shorter and perhaps something that is not so culturally alien. So thanks for reading the poetry. It’s still an important medium for me, but it delights me when others also find it an oasis!

    Hugs, Jane


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