Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations


Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



1. Onihualcalac nicuicani nepapan xochitlalpan, huel

teellelquixtican, tetlamachtican, oncan ahuach tonameyoquiauhtimani,

oncan cuicuica in nepapan tlazototome, on cuicatlaza in coyoltototl

cahuantimani inin tozquitzin in quellelquixtia in tloque in nahuaque

yehuan Dios, ohuaya, ohuaya.

1. I, the singer, have entered many flower gardens, places of

pleasaunce, favored spots, where the dew spread out its glittering

surface, where sang various lovely birds, where the coyol birds let

fall their song, and spreading far around, their voices rejoiced the

Cause of All, He who is God, ohuaya! ohuaya!

2. Oncan nicaqui in cuicanelhuayotl in nicuicani, tlacazo amo

tlalticpac in peuh yectli yancuicatl, tlacazo ompa in ilhuicatl itic

hual caquizti in conehua in tlazocoyoltototl in quimehuilia in

nepapan teoquecholme zacuantototl, oncan tlacazo quiyectenehua in

tloque in nahuaque, ohuaya, ohuaya.

2. It is there that I the singer hear the very essence of song;

certainly not on earth has true poesy its birth; certainly it is

within the heavens that one hears the lovely coyol bird lift its

voice, that the various quechol and zacuan birds speak together,

there they certainly praise the Cause of All, ohuaya! ohuaya!

3. Niyolpoxahua in nicaquia ni cuicani, acoquiza in notlalnamiquilizo

quin pepetlatiquiza in ilhuicame, nelcicihuiliz ehecayotiuh in

iquinalquixtia in ompa ontlatenehua in zacuanhuitzitzil in ilhuicatl

itic, ohuaya, ohuaya.

3. I, the singer, labor in spirit with what I heard, that it may lift

up my memory, that it may go forth to those shining heavens, that my

sighs may be borne on the wind and be permitted to enter where the

yellow humming bird chants its praises in the heavens, ohuaya!


4. Auh nohuiampa nictlachialtia in noyollo auh tlacazo nelli in amo

ixquich quehua in tlazotototl, tlacazo ye oc tlapanahuia in ilhuicatl

itic y yollo in tloque in nahuaque mochiuhtica, ca intlacamo

teuhyotiuh in notlalnamiquiliz azo huelquinalquixtica ittazo in

tlamahuizolli in ilhuicac ic papaqui in ilhuicac tlazototome ixpan in

tloque nahuaque, ohuaya, ohuaya.

4. And as in my thoughts I gaze around, truly no such sweet bird

lifts its voice, truly the things made for the heavens by the Cause

of All surpass all others, and unless my memory tends to things

divine scarcely will it be possible to penetrate these and witness

the wondrous sights in heaven, which rejoice the sweet heavenly birds

before the face of the Cause of All.

5. Quenin ah nichocaz in tlalticpac? ye nican onca nemoayб

ninoztlacahuia, nicitoa aзo zan ye ixquich in nican in tlalticpac

ontlamian toyolia, macuele ehuatl in tloque in nahuaque, ma ompa

inhuan nimitznocuicatili in ilhuicac mochanecahuan ca noyollo ehua

ompa nontlachia in monahuac in motloc tipalnemohua, ohuaya, ohuaya.

5. How much, alas, shall I weep on earth? Truly I have lived here in

vain illusion; I say that whatever is here on earth must end with our

lives. May I be permitted to sing to thee, the Cause of All, there in

the heaven, a dweller in thy mansion, there may my soul lift its

voice and be seen with Thee and near Thee, Thou by whom we live,

ohuaya! ohuaya!

6. Ma xicaquin nocuic in tinocniuh xochihuehuetl inic tzotzonaya

ilhuicacuicatl in nicchuaya, ic niquimellelquixtia in teteucti,

xochicueponi in noyollo izqui xochitl nictzetzelohuaya ic malitiuh in

no cuicatzin ixpan in tloque in nahuaque, ohuaya, ohuaya.

6. List to my song, thou my friend, and to the flower-decked drum

which kept time to the heavenly song which I sang, that I might make

glad the nobles, raining down before them the flowery thoughts of my

heart as though they were flowers, that my noble song might grow in

glory before the face of the Cause of All, ohuaya! ohuaya!


On the signification of the titles given to this poem see the

Introduction, § 3.

1. yehnan Dios; literally “who are God;” the introduction of the

Spanish Dios, God, is in explanation of in tloque in nahuaque; so

far from proving that this song is of late date, this vouches for its

genuine ancient character, through the necessity for such


2. nelhuayotl, the essence or source of something, its true nature;

probably from nelli, true.

teoquecholme; the prefix teotl, divine, is often added as an

expression of admiration. Sahagun mentions the teoquechol as a bird

of brilliant plumage.

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