Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Ancient Nahuatl Poetry ||| AN OTOMI SONG OF SADNESS

Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



1. In titloque in tinahuaque nimitzontlaocolnonotzaya, nelcicihuiliz

mixpantzinco noconiyahuaya, ninentlamati in tlalticpac ye nican

nitlatematia, ninotolinia, in ayc onotechacic in pactli, in

necuiltonolli ye nican; tlezannen naicoyc amo y mochiuhyan, tlacazo

atle nican xotlacueponi in nentlamachtillia, tlacazo zan ihuian in

motloc in monahuac; Macuelehuatl ma xicmonequilti ma monahuactzinco

oc ehuiti in noyolia, ninixayohuatzaz in motloc monahuac


1. To thee, the Cause of All, to thee I cried out in sadness, my

sighs rose up before thy face; I am afflicted here on earth, I

suffer, I am wretched, never has joy been my lot, never good fortune;

my labor has been of no avail, certainly nothing here lessens one’s

suffering; truly only to be with thee, near thee; may it be thy will

that my soul shall rise to thee, may I pour out my tears to thee,

before thee, O thou Giver of Life.

2. Quemachamiqueo in motimalotinemi co y in tlalticpac in ayac

contenmatio in atlamachilizneque o tlacazo can moztla cahuia on in

ămitztenmati in titloque in tinahuaque inic momatio ca mochipa

tlalticpac, nemizqueo ninotlamatli motlaliao niquimittao, tlacazo

mixitl tlapatl oquiqueo ic nihualnelaquahua in ninotolinia o tlacazo

ompa in ximohuayan neittotiuh o, cazo tiquenamiqueo quiniquac ye

pachihuiz ye teyolloa.

2. Happy are those who walk in thy favor here on earth, who never

neglect to offer up praise, nor, leaving till to-morrow, neglect

thee, thou Cause of All, that thou mayest be known in all the earth;

I know that they shall live, I see that they are established,

certainly they have drunk to forgetfulness while I am miserable,

certainly I shall go to see the land of the dead, certainly we shall

meet where all souls are contented.

3. Ma cayac quen quichihuaya in iyollo in tlalticpac ye nican in

titlaocaxtinemi in tichocatinemia, ca zacuel achic ontlaniizoo,

tlacazo zan tontlatocatihuio in yuho otlatocatque tepilhuan, ma ic

ximixcuiti in tinocniuh in atonahuia in atihuelamati in tlalticpac o;

ma oc ye ximăpana in tlaocolxochitl, choquizxochitl, xoyocatimalo

o xochielcicihuiliztlio in ihuicpa toconiyahuazon in tloque in


3. Never were any troubled in spirit on the earth who appealed to

thee, who cried to thee, only for an instant were they cast down,

truly thou caused them to rule as they ruled before: Take as an

example on earth, O friend, the fever-stricken patient; clothe

thyself in the flowers of sadness, in the flowers of weeping, give

praises in flowers of sighs that may carry you toward the Cause of


4. Ica ye ninapanao tlaocolxochicozcatlon, nomac ommanian

elcicihuilizchimаlxochitlon, nic ehuaya in tlaocolcuicatloo,

nicchalchiuhcocahuicomana yectli yancuicatl, nic ahuachxochilacatzoa,

yn o chalchiuhuehueuhilhuitl, itech nictlaxilotia in nocuicatzin in

nicuicani ye niquincuilia in ilhuicac chanequeo zacuantototl,

quetzaltzinitzcantototl teoquechol inon tlătoa quechol in qui

cecemeltia in tloque, etc.

4. I array myself with the jewels of saddest flowers; in my hands are

the weeping flowers of war; I lift my voice in sad songs; I offer a

new and worthy song which is beautiful and melodious; I weave songs

fresh as the dew of flowers; on my drum decked with precious stones

and plumes I, the singer, keep time to my song, as I take it from

those dwellers in the heavens, the zacuan bird, the beautiful

tzinitzcan, the divine quechol, those melodious birds who give joy to

the Cause of All.


The title does not necessarily mean that this song is a translation

from the Otomi language, but merely that the time to which it was

chanted was in the Otomi style; or, the term Otomi may have

reference to the military officer so called. The word is perhaps a

compound of otli, path, and mitl, arrow.

The bard sings the vanity of earthly pleasures, and the reality of

earthly pains; he exhorts himself and his hearers not to neglect the

duties of religion, and lauds his own skill in song, which he

compares to the sweet voices of melodious birds. There is nothing in

the poem which reflects European influence.

1. xotlacueponi; the meaning of this compound is obscure. It is not

found in the dictionaries.

2. The terminal o is inserted several times in the passage to

express emotion and fill the metre.

mixitl tlapatl. A phrase signifying the stupor or drunkenness that

comes from swallowing or smoking narcotic plants. See Olmos,

Grammaire de la Langue Nahuatl, pp. 223, 228; oquiqueo is from

i, to drink, or cui, to take, the o terminal being euphonic.

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