Posts Tagged ‘Lord and Lady Nyo’

” Song of the Nightingale”

August 22, 2016
Song Book cover

Format

 WARNING:  a site called “JP at Olive Garden” has just posted two of my poems and the introduction of “Song of the Nightingale” WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.  What is worse is that some person named Kora Davishen  has ‘rewritten’ my poem “Storm Drain Baby”….and of course, gutting it.  THIS IS WRONG AND UNWORTHY OF A POETRY SITE. What is worse is this is unethical and illegal.  It violates copyright laws. I demand that “JP at Olive Garden” take down my work and do not do this again.  I was warned years ago that “JP at Olive Garden” steals other poets work and posts it on their site, but I didn’t know they also REWRITE and brag about it.  I call upon poets to avoid this site for their Unethical and Illegal behavior. Rewriting a poem is nothing but stealing and business unworthy of real poets. Other  poets have contacted me and they also have had, over the years, some of the same issues with this site (and their constantly changing names).  They do this to make it look like they have more followers than they actually have.  They are NOT poets; they are just opportunists looking to suck off the labor of real poets.  I have made the appropriate forms out to alert BLOGGER about their behavior. Hopefully, they will take action to ban this energy sucker website from the internet.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

August 22, 2016

 

A year ago ( July, 2015) I published “Song of the Nightingale” with Amazon.com.  This book came out of a 10 year study of medieval Japanese culture.  Most importantly, a study of the great 8th century document, “The Man’yoshu”.  This document was a collection of 4,515 poems, written by emperors, priests, women poets, court people, samurai, and included songs of fishermen and peasants.   Some of the verse in this document inspired the action of the two main characters, Lord and Lady Nyo, a fictional samurai couple from the 17th century Japan. Nick Nicholson, from Canberra, Australia, a marvelous writer and photographer, an a friend of over a decade, not only formatted the book but also lent his beautiful photos.  It was a labor of love for both of us, and I have decided to post on this blog a number of the episodes.  The cover was painted by me, and there are other paintings in this book, along with Nick’s photos.

Jane Kohut-Bartels who is the Lady Nyo of this blog.

 

Introduction to ” Song of the Nightingale”

In Old Japan there was an even older daimyo called Lord Mori who lived in the shadow of Moon Mountain, far up in the Northwest of Japan.  Lord Mori ran a court that did little except keep his men (and himself) entertained with drinking, hawking and hunting.  Affairs of state were loosely examined and paperwork generally lost, misplaced under a writing table or under a pile of something more entertaining to his Lordship.  Sometimes even under the robes of a young courtesan.

Every other year the Emperor in Edo would demand all the daimyos travel to his court for an extended visit. This was a clever idea of the honorable Emperor. It kept them from each other’s throats, plundering each other’s land, and made them all accountable to Edo and the throne.

Lord Mori was fortunate in his exemption of having to travel the months to sit in attendance on the Emperor. He was awarded this exemption with pitiful letters to the court complaining of age, ill health and general infirmities. He sent his eldest, rather stupid son to comply with the Emperor’s wishes. He agreed to have this disappointing young man stay in Edo to attend the Emperor. Probably forever.

Lord Mori, however, continued to hunt, hawk and generally enjoy life in the hinterlands.

True, his realm, his fiefdom, was tucked away in mountains hard to cross. To travel to Edo took months because of bad roads, fast rivers and mountain passages. A daimyo was expected to assemble a large entourage for this trip: vassals, brass polishers, flag carriers, outriders, a train of horses and mules to carry all the supplies, litters for the women, litters for advisors and fortune tellers, and then of course, his samurai. His train of honor could be four thousand men or more!

But this tale isn’t about Lord Mori. It’s about one of his generals, his vassal, Lord Nyo and his wife, Lady Nyo, who was born from a branch of a powerful clan, though a clan who had lost standing at the court in Edo.

Now, just for the curious, Lord Nyo is an old samurai, scarred in battle, ugly as most warriors are, and at a lost when it comes to the refinement and elegance of life– especially poetry. His Lady Nyo is fully half his age, a delicate and thoughtful woman, though without issue.

But Lord and Lady Nyo don’t fill these pages alone. There are other characters; priests, magical events, samurai and a particularly tricky Tengu who will entertain any reader of this tale.

A full moon, as in many Japanese tales, figures in the mix. As do poetry, some historic and some bad. War and battles, love and hate. But this is like life. There is no getting one without the other.

 

The present Lady Nyo, descended from generations past.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

 

W

Some poems from “The Nightingale’s Song” ……

January 20, 2015

Samurai Lovers, #2

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These are some small poems,(not tanka), written for “The Nightingale’s Song” to be published this spring, 2015.  They are from the section: “Bad Quarrel” which reflects the state of affairs between Lord and Lady Nyo.  These two are a fictional couple from 17th century Japan.  They first appeared in “The Kimono”, which isn’t finished but I thought they deserved their own book.  And that is the fun of being a writer…most times.  Developing characters that come to life on the page.  Though they are from the 17th century, it seems that human nature is much the same regardless time and culture.

The present Lady Nyo

Like a ghost under water

only the moon gives illumination.

Throw a pebble there

and see how fragmented I am.

I can’t look in the mirror

when I wake.

(Eyes swollen with last night’s grief,

my pillow lake-filled…)

If I could turn back time

I would give up those moments of life

to restore lost harmony….

(But I dare not look this morning.)

It is raining outside,

it is raining within.

Do you think I care?

What happened

has disrupted

all the essentials of life.

—-

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.

Outside is a tender spring.

Inside it might as well be winter.

There is no warmth

generated by memory.

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.

There is nothing from you today.

But then, it was I who moved afar.

I did this from self-hatred,

but found enough to spread around.

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.

My laughter is as hollow

as that stricken tree by the pond.

I have not laughed for a long time.

It strangles my throat.

This morning  I awoke,

and everything was sharp-edged—

my eyes  hardened steel,

my mouth a grim line of dead embers….

but my hands are steady.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

The River Of Death, episode 11, from “The Nightingale’s Song”

December 5, 2014

Savannah Birds

(Watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2007)

It’s been a while since I have returned to this story.  Everything and anything has taken up my time since I started “The Nightingale’s Song” at the end of 2011.  I am back to my favorite research, which is anything concerning Japanese history and literature.  This time, I won’t leave it.  I have a reason to stay.  Nick Nicholson, an old friend who produced my last book, “Pitcher of Moon” this spring, is coming from Canberra, Australia in ten days for a four month trip by car around the US.  In March, he will be here with us for a number of days and  has promised to format “The Nightingale’s Song”.  I am more than grateful. Formatting anything has me all thumbs.  Nick is an expert at these things.

“The Nightingale’s Song” is a story in 12 episodes about a marriage in 17th century Japan.  Lord Nyo and Lady Nyo, he a samurai and she from the powerful clan Fujiwara, have been married since she was fifteen.  Now she is thirty and Lord Nyo sixty. Magic, a tricky Tengu and a baby plucked from the surface of the moon figure in the story.

The poetry of Saigyo is noted:  where it isn’t, it is mine.

Episode 11 is a scene from a battlefield, as Lord Nyo is a general in the provincial army of Lord Mori, an aging and despot daimyo in north west Japan, near Moon Mountain.

Lady Nyo…but not the one in the story.

11

THE RIVER OF DEATH

 

There’s no gap or break in the ranks of those marching under the hill:

an endless line of dying men, coming on and on and on….

—Saigyo

When the news of Lady Nyo

Birthing a son

Reached Lord Nyo

He was far from home,

To the east,

Over mountains

In dangerous, alien territory.

A general in the service

Of his lord,

The gore of battle,

The issue of ‘dying with honor’

Began at first light,

The air soon filled with sounds of battle-

Dying horses, dying men

Drawing their last gasps of life,

Churned into the mud of immeasurable violence.

The river of death is swollen with bodies fallen into it;

in the end  the bridge of horses cannot help.

—Saigyo

Death, not new life

Was before his eyes at dawn,

And death, not life

Pillowed his head at night.

A battle rages around me,

But inside this old warrior

A battle rages inside my heart.

It is heavy with sorrow,

So tired beyond my old bones.

 What good have we done

In watering the soil

With blood and offal

of sons?

 

He stunk with the blood of battle

As his bow and swords cut a swath

Through men in service to another

And when the battle horns went silent,

With tattered banners like defeated clouds

Hanging limp over the field,

Acrid smoke stained everything

And the piteous cries of the dying

Echoed in his ears.

He wondered if his life would end here.

But the gods that he didn’t believe in

Were merciful.

His thoughts turned from fierce, ugly warriors

Towards home and a baby.

Still, he could not leave.

He was caught by status,

The prestige of his clan.

He could not desert the

Fate set out from birth.

Ah! This was fate of a man in servitude

To his Lord Daimyo.

This was the fate

Of a man chained to Honor.

Still, in the darkest hours of the night

The soft and perfumed shape of his wife

Floated down to him from the fleeting clouds,

Came to him through the smoke of battlefield fires,

And he turned on his pallet

To embrace this haunting comfort.

Off in the distance

There I see my loved one’s home

On the horizon.

How I long to be there soon

Get along black steed of mine!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

 

 

Introduction to “The Nightingale’s Song”

July 19, 2013

Samurai Lovers, #2

I need a vacation. I also need to rewrite this series. In October, Nick Nicholson is coming from Canberra to spend time  and we are to work on this book.  He is doing the graphics. I am so happy because, frankly, I need new eyes for this piece. Rewriting is my task, and he, with his eagle eye, will come up with photos to suit the different poems.  Or something like this.

Collaborating is something new for me, but with Nick, a friend of over 7 years, this should prove interesting. Regardless how much work we get done, it’s good to have a friend here to consider life and its possibilities.

For the next couple of weeks I am going to post this series of poems…from the beginning to what I believe is the end. I started to do this before and life got in the way. So, I’ll attempt this again.  Some of these ‘chapters’ are rough, and some pieces stick out of the story and need lopping shears.  We will see.

Lady Nyo

The Introduction to “The Nightingale’s Song”

In Old Japan there was an even older daimyo called Lord Mori who lived in the shadow of Moon Mountain, far up in the Northwest of Japan.  Lord Mori ran a court that did little except keep his men (and himself) entertained with drinking, hawking and hunting.  Affairs of state were loosely examined and paperwork generally lost, misplaced under a writing table or under a pile of something more entertaining to his Lordship.  Sometimes even under the robes of a young courtesan.

Every other year the Emperor in Edo would demand all the daimyos travel to his court for a year.  This was a clever idea of the honorable Emperor. It kept them from each other’s throats, plundering each other’s land, and made them all accountable to Edo and the throne.

 Lord Mori was fortunate in his exemption of having to travel the months to sit in attendance on the Emperor. He was awarded this exemption with pitiful letters to the court complaining of age, ill health and general infirmities.  He sent his eldest, rather stupid son to comply with the Emperor’s wishes. He agreed to have this disappointing young man stay in Edo to attend the Emperor.  Probably forever. 

 Lord Mori, however, continued to hunt, hawk and generally enjoy life in the hinterlands.

 True, his realm, his fiefdom, was tucked away in mountains hard to cross. To travel to Edo took months because of bad roads, fast rivers and mountain passages. A daimyo was expected to assemble a large entourage for this trip: vassals, brass polishers, flag carriers, outriders,  a train of horses and mules to carry all the supplies, litters for the women, litters for advisors and fortune tellers, and then of course, his samurai. His train of honor could be four thousand men or more! 

But this tale isn’t about Lord Mori. It’s about one of his generals, his vassal, Lord Nyo and his wife, Lady Nyo, who was born from a branch of a powerful clan, though a clan that lost standing at the court in Edo.

Now, just for the curious, Lord Nyo is an old samurai, scarred in battle, ugly as most warriors are, and at a loss when it comes to the refinement and elegance of life– especially poetry.  His Lady Nyo is fully half his age, a delicate and thoughtful woman, though without issue.

But Lord and Lady Nyo don’t fill these pages alone. There are other characters;  priests, magical events, samurai and a particularly tricky Tengu who will entertain any reader of this tale.

A full moon, as in many Japanese tales, figures in the mix. As do poetry, some historic and some bad.  War and battles, love and hate.  But this is like life.  There is no getting one without the other.

The present Lady Nyo, descended from generations past.

Jane Kohut-Mori-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2013

“The Nightingale’s Song”, End Poem in this series.

December 5, 2011

 

 

 (above, and early 20th century woodblock postcard)

For Margie.

The Nightingale’s Song

 

Perhaps a strong man

Should not offer love without

Having love returned

But this grieving ugly warrior

Still finds his love is growing

 

The rain ceased,

A cold light appeared

Dappling the ground beneath the gingko-

Like an indigo yukata.

 

Lord Nyo tiredly

Watched the morning grow,

His old bones stiff

As the autumn chill crawled up his spine;

Slow-moving, gait-crippling snakes.

 

Geese flew through peach clouds,

Their cries falling like chiding rain.

Paired for life these geese–

Like a man and woman should be.

 

His falcon,

Sitting in a bamboo cage,

Head tucked under a wing,

Feathers plumped against the

Raw morning breeze

Would want to hunt;

Lord Nyo preferred his warm bed.

 

Un-hooding the falcon,

Placing the bird on glove,

He launched her in the air,

Watched her circle the firmament

Soar in wide circles.

 

How beautiful!  How free!

Glossy feathers, sharp eyed,

She gave a shrill hunting cry

As she scanned earth.

She would come to his call,

A loyal bird–

She would not fly away.

 

Why did his wife not fly away?

As beautiful as this falcon,

As desirable by beauty,

Wit and breeding as any–

Yet she remained with him,

If not on his glove.

 

Once I did believe

Myself to be a warrior

Though I have found

Love has caused me to grow thin

Since my love was not returned.

 

The problem was this:

He could not bend,

Tightly laced in the armor,

In service to his own lord.

 

Ah, if she were here

We could listen together

To the sound of passing geese

Crying in the rising sun.

 

All day Lord Nyo cast his falcon

Into the air.

She brought down birds,

While he flushed out rabbits

Until his saddle bags

Were full, heavy.

 

Still,

His mind did not turn

From poems flowing

From the river of his heart.

 

Although a warrior

I am lying and weeping here

While I make for you

A comb of willow branch-

Let it adorn your hair.

 

And….

 

My longing for her

Is a thousand waves that roll

From the sea each day

Why is it so difficult

To clasp that jewel to my wrist?

 

 

If from her mouth

There hung a hundred-year-old tongue

And she would babble

I still would not cease to care

But indeed my love would grow.

 

All day Lord Nyo

And falcon hunted,

Until darkness fell

And still he loathed

Returning home.

He struggled so hard.

What was of stone?

What was of flesh?

He remembered an old

Verse from the Man’yoshu:

Instead of suffering

This longing for my loved one

I would rather choose

To become a stone or tree

Without feelings or sad thoughts

 

Bah!

He was neither stone nor tree

He was a man,

In sore need of the comfort

Of hearth and home,

And especially a loving wife!

 

Near dawn,

When birds awoke-

Began their morning chatter,

Lord Nyo turned towards home

Came through the wicket gate

Standing open, expecting him.

 

A bright cup of moon

Was low in the eastern sky,

Grinning like a demented god,

Through the morning fog.

 

Banji wa yume.

All things are merely dreams.

 

His  wife on the veranda,

Quilted robe thrown over her head,

And only a small- wicked lantern

Did light her.

 

Lord Nyo slid off his horse

And bowed deeply to Lady Nyo,

A gesture without words

A gesture not needing them.

 

Lord Nyo mounted the steps

Pulled his wife to him and

Arm in arm,

They entered the house

To pillow in each other’s arms

While the uguisu–

The ‘poem-singing’ bird

Welcomed them from her

Branch in the ome tree.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

 

 

 

 

 


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