“Nanki-poo” ~ Poetry and the Opera

a traveling musician was he,

entering the stage in a cheer: “A wand’ring minstrel I!”

this character stunned many a prop of the two-act comic opera,

“The Mikado” or “The Town of Titipu”

each, a tongue twister of some sort

but a brain-teaser, too, for us – the non-Japanese

mikado stands, after all, for the Emperor of Japan

while it represents – online references claim the same:

“the great gate at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto”

no mind-boggling intent is actually there to spend

an age-old tradition of respect is merely in to maintain

when addressing nobility, that is…

where, then, do i come in?

let me make the attempt to explain:

Nanki-poo speaks of his father as the “Brutus of his race”

the world-renowned assassin of Caesar

for the Mikado “condemned his own sons to death”

charging them with “treasonous conspiracy”

one act’s revelation of this son’s escape from execution

is, please beware, of no notable importance here

the Mikado’s rise to the throne however, is

along with his lifelong pretense as a “fool”…

why, you ask?

allow me now to get to my final task:

we each seek a safe space in our memories, as i believe

an alternative reality to help us avoid self-destruction

for me to pretend i am a fool is a long-lost obstruction

besides…

no seat of any significance ever meant anything to me

so…

it’s not the opera’s mikado i can relate to

or ever do

the daughter, i have in mind instead

one he had only from afar

she betrayed her own paternal kin

no conspiracy was there to wrongfully pin

she thought him the fool her entire life through

though to him she was the brightest shining star

one who refused his admiration, for she was dead set

but…

now that he reached a most fragile age

would declare herself a saboteur of notorious fame

having always received either love or more of the same

without ever having given in return anything without rage

who today remains in hopeful despair and desperation as well

for her homecoming not to be too late to cast anew its desired spell

 

© hülya n. yılmaz, December 16, 2014

Source: One of my three contributions for the January 2015 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly book series published by Inner Child Press, Ltd.

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