Posts Tagged ‘call and answer’

“Call and Answer to Ono no Komachi”

May 1, 2017

kohut-bartels-bop-6

(J Kohut-Bartels,  1995, ‘Birds’, watercolor)

Tonight is OLN (Open Link Night) at dversepoets pub.  I don’t know who is tending the bar tonight because I am posting this early, but they are sure to give a good reading of poems there and a stiff drink to boot.

“Call and Answer” is a work in progress…my attempt to riff in verse with Ono no Komachi.  One of my very favorite poets of any age.  She was a fascinating person and poet.  I included an essay on her in the ‘essay section’ of “Song of the Nightingale”, published 2015.  She is slippery, though.  Different translations of the same poem can give a variation in message.  I have found, for her, the best translations are done by Hirshfield and Aratani.  Jane Hirshfield became a mentor to me, of sorts, when I first started writing tanka.  From her it was: “Good start. Still not tanka yet.”  This was helpful.

Lady Nyo

=–=

 

 

Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.

…..Komachi

 

How long will it last?

I know not his hidden heart.

This morning my thoughts

Are as tangled as my hair.

My blushes turn my face dark.”

……Lady Nyo (from “Kimono”, work in progress…)

 

When my desire

Grows too fierce

I wear my bed clothes

Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.

……Komachi

No moon tonight

Only a cold wind visits.

Murasaki robe

Stained the color of grass

Invisible on this earth.

……Lady Nyo   (Murasaki is the color purple.  it is also a grass that has dark lavender tops.  It was used as a dye.)

 

At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.

……Komachi

Come to me, my man,

Part the blinds, come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

Let my belly

Warm your dreams.

…..Lady Nyo

 

One of her most famous poems:

 

No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.

…..Komachi

 

When my need denied

Burns my breasts-torments me

I tear open robes

To lie naked in moonlight

The wind your hands, caressing

……Lady Nyo

 

 

Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.’

…..Komachi

 

Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

     Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

     The fat mountain deer listen-

   Add their bellowing sorrow.

…..Lady Nyo

 

The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.

…..Komachi

 

Tonight, foxes scream

Cued by a howling wind.

Maple leaves quilting

A lonely time of season

No one to share the moonlight.

……Lady Nyo

 

 

 

A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?

…..Komachi

 

So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.

…..Lady Nyo

 

 

Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.

…..Komachi

 

Dreams, reality

How can one truly know?

I stumble through dreams

I stagger through the lost days

Tell me: what has more substance?

…..Lady Nyo

Ono no Komachi just begs for a call and answer.  Her poetry is sublime.  I just had to take this opportunity.  She inspires on the deepest level.

All Komachi poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

Call and Answer: my tanka to answer Ono no Komachi.

December 1, 2016

 

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

(Morning sky to the east a few years ago…)

In the spirit of what was done 1500 years ago, I am answering the call of Ono no Komachi’s wonderful poems with a bit of my own, trying to stay ontheme in each one.

These are just fast written responses., but sometimes that fulfills the task.  As to whether there are ‘real’ tanka, I don’t know, and frankly right now, I am happy enough with what developed.

Lady Nyo

 

Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.

 

How long will it last?

I know not his hidden heart.

This morning my thoughts

Are as tangled as my hair.

My blushes turn my face dark.”

 

When my desire

Grows too fierce

I wear my bed clothes

Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.

No moon tonight

Only a cold wind visits

Murasaki robe

Stained the color of grass

Invisible on this earth.

 

My longing for you—

Too strong to keep within bounds.

At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.

Come to me, my man,

Part the blinds and come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

And let my belly

Warm your dreams.

 

One of her most famous poems:

 

No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.

 

When my needing you

Burns my breasts-torments me

I tear open robes

To lie naked in moonlight

The wind your hands, caressing

 

 

Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.’

 

Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

     Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

     The fat mountain deer listen-

   Add their bellowing sorrow.

 

The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.

 

Tonight, foxes scream

Cued by a howling wind.

Maple leaves quilting

A lonely time of season

No one to share the moonlight.

 

 

 

A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?

 

So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.

 

 

Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.

 

Dreams, reality

How can one truly know?

I stumble through dreams

I stagger through the lost days

Tell me: what has more substance?

I did my poems  fast. I will refine and revise later. And try to complete this with the remaining poems of Komachi.

All Komachi poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

Building upon, inspired by the great Man’yoshu

July 11, 2013
Heian era Woman with Tengu

Heian era Woman with Tengu

Building upon, inspired by, the great Man’yoshu

It is right and proper to draw inspiration from other poetry. It pulls your own poetic voice into the mystery of love and passion. Therefore, I have taken the words from poems from the great 8th century Man’yoshu and either fashioned an answer…or a continuation of the top poem. What I believe to be termed “call and answer”.

The Man’yoshu’s poems are in bold type. All else are my own poetry. These poems are a small part of poems I am working in this fashion. Most of these poems, both from the Man’yoshu and my own are used to head up the 14 sections of “The Nightingale’s Song”.

The last section is poetry written for the plot of “The Nightingale’s Song”.

Lady Nyo

“My heart, like my clothing
Is saturated with your fragrance.
Your vows of fidelity
Were made to our pillow and not to me.”
—-

Oh my wife!
My feet take me over mountains
In the service to our lord
But my heart stays tucked in the bosom
Of your robe.

Does he know?
Does he know?
Does he know about the letters?

“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.”

Strong man as I am,
Who force my way even through the rocks,
In love I rue in misery.
—Man’yoshu

Perhaps a strong man
Should not offer love without
Having love returned
But this grieving ugly warrior
Still finds his love is growing

–Man’yoshu

“The cicada cries
Everyday at the same hour
But I’m a woman much in love and very weak
And can cry anytime”

—Man’yoshu

My thoughts these days
Come thick like the summer grass
Which soon cut and raked
Grows wild again.

Oh, I wish these
Obsessive love-thoughts
Would disappear!
As they fill my head
They empty my sleep!

I who have counted me
For a strong man
Only a little less than heaven and earth,
How short of manliness that I love!

On this earth and even heaven
This weakness in love
Turns my sword
Into a blade of grass.

Come to me
If even only in my dreams
Where my head rests upon my arm-
not yours.
Let this veiled moon
Above and these dark, brooding pines below
Be witness to our love, my man.”

Come to me,
When the rocks have disappeared
Under sheets of snow,
The moon appears through tattered clouds.
I will be
Listening for the sound of
Your footfall in the dark.

Come to me, my man,
Part the blinds and come into my arms,
Snuggle against my warm breast
And let my belly
Warm your soul.

“ A BAD QUARREL” To be worked into “The Nightingale’s Song”

1.
My soul was blossoming,
Secure in your protective shadow.
I stumbled upon this road we walked
And all was suddenly lost.
Perhaps the fault was I did not
Tightly grip your hand?

2.
Like a ghost under water
Only the moon gives illumination.
Throw a pebble there
And see how fragmented I am.

3.
I can’t look in the mirror
when I awake.
(My eyes swollen with last night’s sobs–
my pillow filled like a lake.)
If I could turn back the hands of the clock,
I would give up those moments of life
To restore lost harmony….
But I dare not look this morning.

4.
It is raining outside,
It is raining within.
Do you think I care about that?
What happened
Has disrupted
all the essentials of life.

5.
Who opened the window?
Who let the bees in?
They are the life
I am avoiding.
Their legs have honey on them!
Too sweet for my present mind.

6.
Outside is a tender spring.
Inside it might as well be winter.
There is no warmth
Generated by memory.

8.
I am told this is a little death
I will have to bear.
Perhaps I don’t want it to end?
Then the thought of living without you,
Or the threat of living With you…..
Would upset my self- pity.

9.
There is nothing from you today,
But then, it was I who moved afar.
I did this from self-hatred,
But found there was enough to spread around.

10.
When I get to the anger
you will know I am recovering.
Not nicely, there will always be scars
and jagged edges,
tokens of our time together.
Do you feel any of this pain?
No, perhaps not.

11.
My laughter is as hollow
as that stricken tree by the pond.
I have not laughed for a long time.
It strangles in my throat.

12.
This morning I awoke,
the first time in days,
Everything sharp-edged–
Eyes were hardened steel,
Mouth a grim line of dead cinders….
But my hands are now steady.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2013

Jane Kohut-Bartels
(aka Lady Nyo)


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