“Song of the Nightingale”, episode 2

Japanese Woman

It’s been a while since I wrote tanka, so this morning I attempted one.  It violates some tanka ‘rules’  (kigo word, etc.) but I offer it to my tanka-loving friends and poets anyway.  Tanka can be a gift. Since it started as song, folk song, it developed into written verse, and was given back and forth by lovers.

“Mist drifts in waves

Ribbon-ing maple branches

The rise of the moon

Make Egrets shimmer silver-

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.”

Lady Nyo

 (actually, mentioning ‘maple branches’ would  be a kigo word:  Aki, Fall.)




“My heart, like my clothing

Is saturated with your fragrance.

Your vows of fidelity

Were made to our pillow and not to me.”

—-12th century


Kneeling before her tea

Lady Nyo did not move.

She barely breathed-

Tomorrow depended

Upon her action today.


Lord Nyo was drunk again.

When in his cups

The household scattered.

Beneath the kitchen

Was the crawl space

Where three servants

Where hiding.

A fourth wore an iron pot.


Lord Nyo was known

For three things:



And drink.


Tonight he strung

His seven foot bow,

Donned his quiver

High on his back.

He looked at the pale face

Of his aging wife,

His eyes blurry, unfocused.

He remembered the first time

pillowing her.


She was fifteen.

Her body powdered petals,

Bones like butter,

Black hair  trailing bo silk.

The blush of shy passion

Had coursed through veins

Like a tinted stream.


Still beautiful

Now too fragile for his taste.

Better a plump whore,

Than this delicate, saddened beauty.


He drew back the bow

In quick succession

Let five arrows pierce

The shoji.

Each grazed the shell ear

Of his wife.


Life hung on her stillness.

She willed herself dead.

Death after all these years

Would have been welcome.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted , 2013-2016


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6 Responses to ““Song of the Nightingale”, episode 2”

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    This is a magnificent piece… so much going into this, I can see how this can turn into a fine story..


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Bjorn! It gets better….LOL! The conflict between the couple grows and there is of course, great misunderstandings. Especially on the part of Lord Nyo. This story came from 8 years of research into Japanese cultural standards in the medieval period….the issue of ‘giri’ and other things important to life then (and now) in Japan. Throw in a Tengu, and you have a lot of trouble! LOL!~

    Thank you for reading and your comment. If you haven’t, please read the ‘introduction’ posted yesterday. it sets up the plot,(somewhat) and makes it a bit easier to follow.



  3. phoartetry Says:

    Wow, Jane incredible writing and subject matter. Your research has paid off my friend.

    Plenty of smiles sent your way, Connie


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Connie! I published this book last year and didn’t do much presenting of it. Just moved on to other projects, but I think it is the best I have done. And yes, the research has become a key note, a foundational block in my life.
    The cover and some paintings and calligraphy is mine inside, and my good friend, Nick Nicholson in Australia, did the photos…plus the formatting. He is worth his weight in gold. He’s visited us twice now in two years so we have worked on two books together: “Pitcher of Moon” and “Nightingale”. He put them on Amazon.com and then I forgot about it. LOL!
    Reading Donald Keene today ….and tomorrow and some old uta books….I’m in Heaven! LOL!

    Hugs, Jane


  5. phoartetry Says:

    A great accomplishment. I’m going on Amazon to order your book. 🤓


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Connie. I hope it delights you!


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