Posts Tagged ‘“Song of the Nightingale”’

Lord Nyo’s Lament, from “Song of the Nightingale”, Episode 3.

May 16, 2017

images (9)

 

Lord Nyo’s Lament

 

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.

Lady Nyo, circa 2015

 

 

The song of the arrow

As it arced into the sea

Was as tuneless

As a badly strung samisen.

 

Gun- metal clouds

Stretched across a dull horizon

The sun still asleep

As he should be

His quiver empty

His heart, too.

 

When had the callousness of life and death

Become as comfortable as breath to him?

He had become too much the warrior

And too little the man.

 

His distance from his wife,

From most of life

Was as if some unseen object

Kept them ten paces apart.

Perhaps it was the cloud-barrier

Of earthly lusts which obscured

The Sun of Buddha?

 

 

Perhaps he should pray.

What God would listen?

Then it came to him

That joker of a Buddha, Fudo

With his rope to pull him from Hell

And his sword to cut through foolishness-

Fudo would listen.

Fudo knew the quaking hearts

The illusions embraced

To stomach the battlefield

The fog of drink,

To face life

In the service of Death.

Fudo would save him from

The yellow waters of Hell.

 

He remembered those years

When she could bring him to his knees

With the promise of dark mystery

Between silken thighs,

And the glimpse of her white wrist-

A river of passion

Just beneath the surface.

How he had steeled his heart

Believing himself unmanned

For the love she induced!

 

Three cranes flew low to the shore,

Legs streaming like black ribbons behind.

Three cranes, three prayers, three chances

To find his way back

Bound up in Fudo’s ropes,

Prodded in the ass by Fudo’s sword.

 

He would write a poem

On a bone-white fan

To leave on her cushion.

She would know his love

She would know his sorrow.

 

The sea took his arrows

Beyond the breakers,

The glint of sleek feathers

Catching thin rays of light.

An unexpected peace came over him

As they journeyed far from his hands.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2016 (Song of the Nightingale was published on Amazon in 2015 and can be bought online)

 

 

 

 

“The Stillness of Death”, Episode 2 of “Song of the Nightingale”

May 12, 2017

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

Continuing on with the story……

THE STILLNESS OF DEATH

 

 

“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:

Archery-

Temper-

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 like 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 , 2015, “Song of the Nightingale” can be bought on Amazon.com

 

 

“Song of the Nightingale” introduction…..

May 10, 2017

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

 

In 2015, I wrote and published on Amazon.com “Song of the Nightingale”.  It’s a story in 13 episodes of a man and wife in 16th century Japan, he a general in a daimyo’s army and she fully half his age.  Obviously an arranged marriage.

I loved this story and apparently others did, too, but I never really concentrated on this book because life got in the way, along with other writing.  So, I am going to post some of the episodes on this blog just for entertainment and hopefully for  interest in the entire book.  A Moon Baby appears, a rather nasty Tengu priest, and other issues that involved 16th century life in Japan.  Lord Nyo refers to himself as ‘an ugly old warrior’, but his heart, immersed in war for so long, does begin to soften and attend to his wife, Lady Nyo, who is smarter than she appears.

Lady Nyo (but not the one in the book.)

 

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 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.

 

A Sacred Universe….and an Introduction.

March 22, 2017

 

 

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

(Watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, for the book cover above, 2015.)

 

The world can become a sacred universe for poets when we become such.  That ‘golden thread’ William Blake and William Stafford wrote about can bring us to the gates of Heaven but I envision a very different Heaven than what has been spoken about by the religious.  That golden tread  leads through, or encompasses the sights, sounds, chaos and experience that makes up our poems and our dreams can be easily broken. We must not grab it so tightly.  We, and it, must have room to breath. 

Perhaps that is why we compose our poetry in silence, roll it around our mouths, recite it to the cats, and, when we are lucky, recite to other poets. But it is by necessity a solitary pursuit.  There can be no demand to ‘let me into your artistry’ when it is forming.  It must complete itself before seeing the light of day.  It is our contract with ourselves, sacred universe in its being.

Lady Nyo

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, (Mt. Gassan)  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 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, 2017 (“Song of the Nightingale” can be purchased at Amazon.com, published in 2015)

 

 

‘The Stillness of Death’, Chapter One.

March 17, 2017

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

Painting: watercolor by Jane Kohut-Bartels…of nightingales…for book cover.

 

The Lady and Lord Nyo are not me nor he….this is a chapter, or an episode from my book, “The Song of the Nightingale”, published by Amazon.com in 2015.

Lady Nyo

 

THE STILLNESS OF DEATH

 

 

“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:

Archery-

Temper-

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 like 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 , 2015, from “Song of the Nightingale” published by Amazon.com, 2015.

 

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

September 1, 2016

Samurai Lovers, #2

 

“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,

 Is the paling Milky Way,

And Oh, my husband!

There are not stars enough in the heavens

To equal my sorrowful tears.”

 

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  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.”

 

And:

 

“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, 2015-16

 I see that JP at Olive Garden is STILL posting my blog at their illegal site.  That’s fine, because I will continue to write what unethical and craven cowards they are. I’ve asked them to take it down and they ignore. These folk are not poets:  they are thieves and don’t have the intelligence to be poets.  They are scumbags that leech off the hard work of real poets.  They will be dealt with legally.  Copyright infringement is serious business. 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Temptation of Lady Nyo, from “Song of the Nightingale”

August 29, 2016

Song Book cover

 

Does he know?

Does he know?

Does he know about the letters?

 

The court of Lord Mori

Was a small one

Where the men,

Lord Nyo included

Sat and discussed business:

The pleasurable business of hunting,

Archery, drinking

And on occasion,

Just for form’s sake,

Wrote bad poetry.

 

The women of course

Were positioned behind carved screens,

Where the eagle-eyed Lady Mori,

An old and rice-powdered dragon

Conducted her own court of

Writing more bad poetry, finger games

And layering sleeves and hems for the

Best effects…unseen by anyone else–

Except the other women.

 

There was a break in this

Unending monotony one day;

Lady Nyo received poems

From some unknown admirer

Stuffed in different places where

She would find them:

Her screen at court,

On her silk, embroidered cushion,

And even penned on her fan.

She never knew who was so bold,

Never saw even a glimmer of him-

He could have been a ghost.

She recorded her answers in her journal

So she could have evidence of her innocence

Yet she buried his poems in the garden under

A bed of peonies.

She could not bear to burn them.

 

Japanese Women

 

 

1.

Yesterday I found a fan with a poem

Stuck in the screen.

Today I found another one placed

On my cushion at court.

Do you have a death wish?

Do you desire the death of me?

You know my husband is known for his temper.

Would I end my life so dishonored?

 

2.

I see you are as persistent

As the rain in Spring.

Have you no fear?

What is your interest?

Surely I am just another painted face.

 

3.

I read your poem.

I could do nothing else.

This time it was inked upon

MY fan.

 

4.

“The wind blows from the north

Chilling my heart.

Only the thought of a touch of your sleeve

Warms me.”

Very nice, but my sleeves are not interested.

 

5.

“I throw acorns

To the darting carp.

With each nut I say a

Prayer for your health.”

Lovely sentiment, and I am

Always grateful for prayers.

But do you think of my reputation

And what you risk?

 

6.

I see no poetry this morning

Though I searched for your usual offering.

I knew your interest was as capricious

As a flight of moths.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2016

 

 

“A Bad Quarrel”, from “Song of the Nightingale”

August 26, 2016

Song Book cover

I should have looked at the manuscript before I posted yesterday’s verse for d’versepoets pub.  Apparently I had forgotten this episode.  So….I’m posting it now.  It ‘fleshes out’ a bit about Lady Nyo and her husband.

 

“A BAD QUARREL”

 

Life with Lord Nyo was not easy. A general in the service of his Daimyo Lord Mori, his life was not his own. For thirty years he had devotedly served him, leading men onto the battlefield, his two swords cutting a swath through the enemy. Most battles he was away from his home and wife for months. When his Lord Daimyo took it into his head to raid other territory, Lord Nyo could be gone for as long as a year.

Lady Nyo, as was expected, was an obedient wife, devoted to her Lord husband and their Daimyo. But life was tumultuous with Lord Nyo. Almost two decades of marriage had frayed the warp and weave of this fabric and patience had become thin.

After a bad quarrel initiated by Lord Nyo (who had a temper as dangerous as black powder), Lady Nyo took to her journal, and in a curious code, composed herself and wrote some poems for her eyes only. Those poor eyes were swollen from sleeplessness and excessive tears, but her mind was as steady as a well-shot arrow. Even her nursemaid, her lifelong confident, could not read her code, for in these things Lady Nyo trusted no one.

If not proper to express anger to her husband, the leaves of her journal would not deny. They would hold her sentiments and even the great Lord Jizo would smile with mercy on her troubled soul.

With no solace or comfort except for the journal, she carefully buried it beneath the azaleas in the garden. Perhaps the sweet smelling flowers in early spring would dissolve the rancor burrowing in her heart.

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.

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

7.

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.

8.

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

9.

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.

10.

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.

11.

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, 2011-2016  Song of the Nightingale is published by Amazon.com, 2015

 

 


 

‘Lord Nyo’s Lament’, from “Song of the Nightingale”

August 25, 2016

 Shawna and many others:  I’m having a hard time posting on sites…..but know I will keep trying…the poetry of you all is wonderful, and I just wanted you to know that I am reading.  Jane….wordpress doesn’t seem to be working on many sites lately.

This is #3 in 13 episodes from “Song of the Nightingale”.  A tale of two early 17th century Japanese couple, not young, and suffering some of the same issues of marriage that centuries later still exist.

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

(Cover painting by Jane Kohut-Bartels, wc, 2015)

 

Lord Nyo’s Lament

 

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.

Lady Nyo, circa 2015

 

 

The song of the arrow

As it arced into the sea

Was as tuneless

As a badly strung samisen.

 

Gun- metal clouds

Stretched across a dull horizon

The sun still asleep

As he should be

His quiver empty

His heart, too.

 

When had the callousness of life and death

Become as comfortable as breath to him?

He had become too much the warrior

And too little the man.

 

His distance from his wife,

From most of life

Was as if some unseen object

Kept them ten paces apart.

Perhaps it was the cloud-barrier

Of earthly lusts which obscured

The Sun of Buddha?

 

 

Perhaps he should pray.

What God would listen?

Then it came to him

That joker of a Buddha, Fudo

With his rope to pull him from Hell

And his sword to cut through foolishness-

Fudo would listen.

Fudo knew the quaking hearts

The illusions embraced

To stomach the battlefield

The fog of drink,

To face life

In the service of Death.

Fudo would save him from

The yellow waters of Hell.

 

He remembered those years

When she could bring him to his knees

With the promise of dark mystery

Between silken thighs,

And the glimpse of her white wrist-

A river of passion

Just beneath the surface.

How he had steeled his heart

Believing himself unmanned

For the love she induced!

 

Three cranes flew low to the shore,

Legs streaming like black ribbons behind.

Three cranes, three prayers, three chances

To find his way back

Bound up in Fudo’s ropes,

Prodded in the ass by Fudo’s sword.

 

He would write a poem

On a bone-white fan

To leave on her cushion.

She would know his love

She would know his sorrow.

 

The sea took his arrows

Beyond the breakers,

The glint of sleek feathers

Catching thin rays of light.

An unexpected peace came over him

As they journeyed far from his hands.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2016  (“Song of the Nightingale” was published by Amazon.com, 2015)

 

 

 

“Song of the Nightingale”, episode 2

August 23, 2016

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.)

THE STILLNESS OF DEATH

 

 

“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:

Archery-

Temper-

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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