Posts Tagged ‘cultural differences’

“The Night of the Stain”, from ‘A Seasoning of Lust’

July 10, 2013

Man'yoshu image II

I have been working on a piece that is based on the Man’yoshu, the 8th century Japanese document of over 4500 poems. What I have begun to do is a ‘call and answer’ for lack of a better term. Taking the top poem from the Man’yoshu, I have continued on with my own poetry (answer). In the next week I hope to finish this task.

I post “The Night of the Stain” to change the theme and to bring us into the very romantic Man’yoshu poetry that is to come.

There is a reference to a dildo in this poem. It may shock some, but in Japan there are museums to this sexual toy. Giving a dildo has a long tradition and is not something that dismays the Japanese. Well, at least not many of them.

Lady Nyo


Izumi hid in the willow greenery
Jade green strands cascading to the ground
Hair of blackbird gloss
Trailing in the grass
Black and green tangled
In the layers of her hems.

Her maid searched for her,
Duty to her mistress,
These peaceful moments now rare.

“My Lady! I found the most beautiful
Robe in the bottom of a chest.
It will be perfect for your wedding”

Yes, her wedding.
Better she become a nun.

Izumi parted the willow,
Looked without interest.
Her maid held
A pale jade silk kimono
Embossed tarnished silver embroidery,
Seed pearls gleaming from
Gossamer folds.
Izumi’s breath caught in her throat.
Hands trembling
She opened the kimono.

There it was, faded with time-
A blood stain.

He was dead now, her greatest love.
Closing her eyes
She remembered his face,
His hair, black as a raven,
His sandalwood perfume, still faintly trapped
In the jade bo silk.

Through tears leaking
From shadowed lids,
She remembered that night-
She remembered the gift of an ivory dildo.
She remembered the night of the stain,
When locked in his powerful arms
She screamed out—
Scattering servants listening outside the shoji.
She had bled from
The strength of their passion.

Now she was to marry an old man,
Arranged through the court.
Scandal and poverty, Ah!
The two banes of life.

She would need the dildo.
She would marry in the stained kimono.
It wouldn’t matter anymore.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2011, 2013

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