‘Lady Nyo’s Torment’, from “Song of the Nightingale” an episode.


(This  is a watercolor of mine called “Savannah Birds”.  I gave it to a person who apparently didn’t care for it. I found it under a bed with frame and glazing broken. I brought it home.  A few years later it became the cover of “Song of the Nightingale”.  One can never account for another’s taste.)


Two years ago, I published “Song of the Nightingale”, a book containing 13 episodes of poetry describing the life of a 16th century Samurai couple in Japan.  People who had read excerpts of this book loved it, but I didn’t give it enough attention when I published it in 2015. (I went on to publish another book, “Seasoning of Lust” 2sd edition in 2016 and have recently almost finished “Kimono” a long time-warp novel.) Having been a reader of the “Man’yoshu”, a 8th century document of over 4500 poems, I was taken by the beautiful and very modern verse in this great document.  I had the story already in my mind for a few years, but the Man’yoshu gave me a very human element to  understand how people don’t really change over a 1000 years ago.  Human nature, and emotions remain mostly the same. Both of these books, “Song of the Nightingale” and “Seasoning of Lust” can be bought on Amazon.com.


“I stay here waiting for him
In the autumn wind, my sash untied,
Wondering, is he coming now,
Is he coming now?
And the moon is low in the sky.
The only company I have tonight,
Now near dawn, is the paling Milky Way,
And Oh, my husband!
There are not stars enough in the heavens
To equal my sorrowful tears.”

—verse of Lady Nyo, 16th century

Hana Nyo threw back the quilted robe from her head.
It was just a dream, just a dream.
Then why does my heart pound so?

Two nights before
Lady Nyo and her nurse
Spent the hours til dawn
Watching the flame rise and fall
Through the shoji of Lord Nyo’s room,
Watched the candle
Consume the poems he was writing–
But to whom?

“Ah, he has another woman!”
Her nurse was loyal but leaned
On the privilege of time.

Lady Nyo’s heart took flight.
Fear and shame dueled
In her blood, pushing reason
From her head.

Did he know?
Did he know?
Did he know about the poems?
Did he know of the vanished lover?

For two days it rained.
November rains poured like
Waterfalls off the eaves,
Broke the stems of the chrysanthemums,
Scattered the flower heads,
Blew great gusts of wet wind into her room,
Blanketing an already sorrowful mind
With a seasonal fury.

Lord Nyo had ridden out
The dawn after
The Night of Burning Poems,
Dressed for hunting,
His falcon on his glove,
Not a word of farewell,
Not a baleful glance in her direction.
She watched him mount his horse,
And gallop away.
She watched from the slits between bamboo blinds,
Like a thief or a beggar,
She didn’t know what she was,
Only felt the sharp sting of shame,
A particular loss of something she probably
Never had.


Lady Nyo spent the day journal writing,
Her misery reflected in an unpainted face,
Tangled hair,
Shunning food as a sacrifice:
The pain of her torment
Was not lessened.

“Once I did believe
That no love could still linger
Within my heart
Yet, a love springs from somewhere
And forces itself on me.”


“My eyes have seen you
But I’ve yet to hold you close
You’re like a laurel
That is growing on the moon
And I don’t know what to do.”

Yes, and I don’t know what to do.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2015-2016, (Song of the Nightingale” a tale in 13 episodes can be obtained at Amazon.com)


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6 Responses to “‘Lady Nyo’s Torment’, from “Song of the Nightingale” an episode.”

  1. lynn__ Says:

    Beautifully paired painting and verse!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Lynn. The ‘kamis’ of comments have destroyed my reply to you, but I thank you for reading this and your comment. Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bodhirose Says:

    I have a guess as to under whose bed you found your beautiful gift, Jane. I absolutely love your paintings and your incredible writing. They meld perfectly here.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Yes, you guessed right. Who didn’t care a twit for the painting or else it would have had a better placement than a louvered closet door in a spare bedroom. And she screamed bloody murder when I told her she wasn’t getting it back. Yelled (on the phone) that “it was a birthday present, you little bitch’. Well, actually, it wasn’t but if she wants to believe that….well, so it goes. She will never get another painting (etc) from me. LOL! Some people have particular personality disorders that make it miserable to be near. Soul destroying, actually.

    Thank you, Gayle. I try. Both in writing and painting. I try. I also miss but I keep trying. My computer crashed Friday and I went through hoops trying to get it fixed…but a sweet computer nerd of my son’s acquaintance showed up at 8:30am this morning and in an hour fixed everything that a computer store broke. LOL! I wouldn’t really care about being off line, except for the blog and the friends like you, Gayle, and our sweet Toni. Inside of “Song of the Nightingale” are more paintings (that devil of kami, Lord Yoki…LOL) and some calligraphy of mine…in Japanese script. Not great stuff, but I try. Again. LOLQ!

    Thank you, Gayle. It is really rare that anyone even notices the paintings but I got a lot of them…and try to pepper my blog pieces, and poetry with them.


  5. Bodhirose Says:

    What a poor, sad human being she is, Jane, but you have the right attitude with her and I’m glad you took your painting back.

    I always notice your paintings and marvel at your talent because I don’t have it. Like I said, your paintings are a wonderful accompaniment to your writings. So happy that you are still around to visit online when I get the chance. Thank goodness for those computer geeks with their knowledge and talent! We’d be up the creek without them, lol! Hugs…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Yeah, wouldn’t we be so? Up that proverbial creek@ LOL! Look, I taught myself to paint…first to draw (sorta) and then I copied many pictures….and then tried to make variations on the theme or so….so it really isn’t a question of talent I don’t believe…at least for myself. I just developed an eye and the hand followed. I don’t think I am anything special. I think most people can paint and draw…it’s just a curiosity and application of that stuff. And time. And effort, and you know what? Every time I try a new painting….I FREAK!!! I can’t remember a damn thing! No technique…but If I relax, it seems to come through for me. I did read “The Courage to Create”, by Dr. Otto Rank (I believe his name…I am in a forgetful state right now…) and that really made me understand that our creativity is deep within ourselves and IF we can reach down into our inners we can pull this stuff up and make it useful. Much more to this short book, but it is one that I will never forget the lessons here. And he talks a lot about the particular personality disorder: narcissism…and what a soul and creativity killer it is.
    It took me years to realize what she was…and to go No Contact with her for several. When I broke it, out of sentimental reasons (she is 97) it was just like I had hoped not: she hadn’t changed at all…she was still toxic. And that is the real lesson regardless who is toxic: Run. And run away fast. These people are like vampires, waiting to suck you dry because they really have no human empathy or compassion…or interest in anyone else except who can serve them best. hell, I have cats who show more empathy!@ LOL! Thank you, Gayle, for your understanding. it is not many who do because pathological narcissism has taken over our nation and society and we are confused about what it is and what it does. And it is a killer. A soul crusher. Some survive, and many don’t but it will change you forever….when you have had these experiences. And they are horrible. But there is life after these people fade from earth. You just have to go on and do as much with yourself as possible. And we all have that creative possibility inside ourselves. At least, those of us who haven’t given up. Bless you, Gayle.


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