Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Ancient Nahuatl Poetry ||| A SONG OF THE HUEXOTZINCOS

Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



Viniendo los de Huexotzinco а pedir socorro а Moteuczoma Tlaxcalla.

Coming to Ask Aid of Montezuma Against Tlaxcalla.

1. Tlacuiloltzetzeliuhticac moyoliol tiMoteuczomātzi

nichuicatihuitz nictzetzelotihuitz y o huetzcani

xochinquetzalpapalotl moquetzalizouhtihuitz noconitotia

chalchiuhatlaquiquizcopa niyahueloncuica chalchiuhhuilacapitzli

nicteocuitlapitza ya ho ay la ya o haye ohuichile amiyacale.

1. Raining down writings for thy mind, O Montezuma, I come hither, I

come raining them down, a very jester, a painted butterfly; stringing

together pretty objects, I seem to be as one cementing together

precious stones, as I chant my song on my emerald flute, as I blow on

my golden flute, ya ho, ay la, etc.

2. Ohuaya ye onniceelehuia moxochiuh aya ipalnemoani yehuayā Dios

aya ilihuāca nahuiche nictzetzeloaya noncuicatilo yaha y.

2. Yes, I shall cause thy flowers to rejoice the Giver of Life, the

God in heaven, as hither I come raining down my songs, ya ho.

3. Tozmilini xochitl in noyolyol ay yahue tozmilini xochitl noteponaz

ayanco ayancayome oncana y yahue nicxochiamoxtozimmanaya itlatol

ayanco ayanca yomeho.

3. A sweet voiced flower is my mind, a sweet voiced flower is my

drum, and I sing the words of this flowery book.

4. Xompaqui xonahuia annochipanicantiyazque ye ichano

nohueyetzinteuctli Moteuczomatzi, totlaneuh tlpc totlaneuh uelic

xochitl o ayanco.

4. Rejoice and be glad ye who live amid the flowers in the house of

my great lord Montezuma, we must finish with this earth, we must

finish with the sweet flowers, alas.

5. Tlachinoltepec yn ahuicacopa tixochitonameyo timoquetzaco y yehuan

Dios a ocelozacatl ypan quauhtli choca ymopopoyauhtoc y yanco y liyan

cay yahue ayli y yacalco y ya y ycho zaca y yahue.

5. At the Mount of Battle we bring forth our sweet and glittering

flowers before God, plants having the lustre of the tiger, like the

cry of the eagle, leaving glorious memory, such are the plants in

this house.

6. Ohuaya yehe nipa tlantinemia ixpan Dios a

ninozozohuayatlauhquechol, zaquan quetzal in tlayahualol papalotl

mopilihuitzetzeloa teixpana xochiatlaquiquizcopa oh tlatoca ye nocuic

y yanco ili, etc.

6. Alas! in a little while there is an end before God to all living;

let me therefore string together beauteous and yellow feathers, and

mingling them with the dancing butterflies rain them down before you,

scattering the words of my song like water dashed from flowers.

7. Nehcoya ompa ye nihuithuiya xoxouhqui hueyatla ymancan zanniman

olini pozoni tetecuica ic nipa tlania, zan iquetzal in tototl

xiuhquechol tototl no chiuhtihuitz’y ni yahuinac ya Huexotzinco

Atzalan ayome.

7. I would that I could go there where lies the great blue water

surging, and smoking and thundering, till after a time it retires

again: I shall sing as the quetzal, the blue quechol, when I go back

to Huexotzinco among the waters (or, and Atzalan).

8. Zan niquintocaz aya niquimiximatitiuh nohueyotzitzinhuan

chalchiuhquechol y canca xiuhquechol in teocuitlapapalotl in

cozcatototl ontlapia ye onca Huexotzinco Atzalan ayame;

8. I shall follow them, I shall know them, my beloved Huexotzincos;

the emerald quechol birds, the green quechol, the golden butterflies,

and yellow birds, guard Huexotzinco among the waters (or, and


9. Xochi Atzalaan teocuitlaatl chalchiuhatl y nepaniuhyan itlatoaya

in quetzalcanauhtli quetzalnocuitlapilli cuecueyahuaya yliya yliya

yaho ayli yaho aye huichile anicale.

9. Among the flowery waters, the golden waters, the emerald waters,

at the junction of the waters which the blue duck rules moving her

spangled tail.

10. Huecapan nicac nicuicanitl huiya zaquan petlatolini, ma nica

yeninemia nicyeyectian cuicatla in nic xochiotia yayaho yahii.

10. I the singer stand on high on the yellow rushes; let me go forth

with noble songs and laden with flowers.


The occurrence to which this poem alludes took place about the year

1507. The chroniclers state that it was in the early period of the

reign of Montezuma II, that the natives of Huexotzinco, at that time

allies of the Mexicans, were severely harassed by the Tlascallans,

and applied, not in vain, to their powerful suzerain to aid them.

(See Tezozomoc, Cronica Mexicana, cap. 97.)

The poet does not appear to make a direct petition, but indirectly

praises the grandeur of Montezuma and expresses his own ardent love

for his native Huexotzinco. The song would appear to be used as a

delicate prelude to the more serious negotiations. It is one of the

few historical songs in the collection. From the references in verses

1 and 3 we infer that this singer held in his hand the painted book

from which he recited the couplets. This may explain the presentation

of the piece.

1. huetzcani; one who laughs, a jester, perhaps the designation of

one who sang cheerful songs.

chalchiuhatlaquiquizcopa; a. word of difficult analysis. I suspect

an omission of an l, and that the compound includes tlaquilqui,

one who fastens and puts together, a mason, etc.

5. The sense is that the warriors of Montezuma when on the field of

battle, shine in their deeds like beautiful flowers in a field, and

win lasting fame by their exploits.

mopopoyauhtoc. The grammarian Olmos explains the reflexive verb

mopopoyauhtiuh to signify “he leaves an honored memory of his

exploits.” See Simйon, Dictionaire de la Langue Nahuatl, sub voce.

7. Huexotzinco atzalan; “Huexotzinco amid the waters.” This

expression, repeated in verse 8, appears inappropriate to the town of

Huexotzinco, which lies inland. In fact, the description in verse 7

applies to Tenochtitlan rather than the singer’s own town. But the

text does not admit this translation. Perhaps we should read

“Huexotzinco and Atzalan,” as there are yet two villages of that name

in the state of Puebla (which embraced part of ancient Huexotzinco).

10. petiatolini, I have derived from petlatl, suspecting an error

in transcription. The reference is to the rushes in the mat on which

the singer stood.

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