Posts Tagged ‘the revenge of Lady Nyo’

‘The Temptation of Lady Nyo’, posted for d’

October 3, 2011


The character Lady Nyo (from the unfinished novel, “The Kimono”) has attracted an admirer at court.  When attending court, women were secured behind open, ornate carved screens, or painted and decorated silk screens.  Since these women were ladies-in-waiting of the Empress and other relatives, they were allowed to attend events and to be called upon for various activities there. Dancing and playing music, reciting poetry were especially desired by the court.  They spent a lot of time behind these screens arranging their layered hems and sleeves of their many kimonos, (usually 12 ); colorful, scented butterflies to lessen the boredom of a routine court. 

Of course it was also to attract admirers:  married women led in this activity and poems were left (placed in the carvings of the screens) next to the hems of a desired women by a courtier, etc.  Poems, tanka, were inked upon fans and also left where they would be found by the desired.  (in her carriage was one place). 

It was necessary for the success of an admirer that the verse be considered ‘elegant’ and the stationary appropriate.  Perhaps a branch of a budding cherry or plum tree was attached or in the fall, long marsh grasses or colorful leaves.  Not only the poetry and layering of seasonal color in kimono was applauded, but the mixing of perfumes appropriate to the season was also of great value.

Lady Nyo has a certain ‘revenge’ upon her brute of a husband.  She has attracted the interest of a particular man, but she must show her distain first.  The level of his poetry would determine  whether he would be of any interest to her.  In most cases, the man would not be revealed as to whom he was until that first visit at night in her bedroom.  Sometimes it would be the husband who would coming courting. 

The Temptation of Lady Nyo




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?




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.




I read your poem.

I could do nothing else.

This time it was inked upon

MY fan.




“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.




“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?




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, 2009, 2011, from “A Seasoning of Lust”, published by

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