Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Ancient Nahuatl Poetry ||| AN OTOMI SONG OF THE MEXICANS

Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



1. Nicchalchiuhtonameyopetlahuaya, nictzinitzcanihuicaloaya,

niquilnamiquia nelhuayocuicatla, nic zacuanhuipanaya yectli

yancuicatl nicuicani, nicchalchiuhtlazonenelo ic nichualnextia in

xochicueponallotl ic nicellelquixtia in tloque in nahuaque.

1. I, the singer, polished my noble new song like a shining emerald,

I arranged it like the voice of the tzinitzcan bird, I called to mind

the essence of poetry, I set it in order like the chant of the zacuan

bird, I mingled it with the beauty of the emerald, that I might make

it appear like a rose bursting its bud, so that I might rejoice the

Cause of All.

2. Zacuantlazoihuiticaya tzinitzcan tlauquechol ic nicyaimatia,

nocuicatzin teocuitlatzitzilini nocuic nitoz; miahuatototl nocuica

cahuantimania, nicehuaya xochitzetzelolpб ixpan in tloque nahuaque.

2. I skillfully arranged my song like the lovely feathers of the

zacuan bird, the tzinitzcan and the quechol; I shall speak forth my

song like the tinkling of golden bells; my song is that which the

miaua bird pours forth around him; I lifted my voice and rained down

flowers of speech before the face of the Cause of All.

3. Qualli cuicanelhuayotlo, teocuitlaquiquizcopa nicehuaya, ilhuicac

cuicatlo nictenquixtia, nitoz miahuatototl, chalciuhtonameyotica,

niccueponaltia yectli yancuicatlo, nicehuaya xochitlenamaquilizticaya

ic nitlaahuialia nicuicani ixpan in tloque nahuaque.

3. In the true spirit of song I lifted my voice through a trumpet of

gold, I let fall from my lips a celestial song, I shall speak notes

precious and brilliant as those of the miaua bird, I shall cause to

blossom out a noble new song, I lifted my voice like the burning

incense of flowers, so that I the singer might cause joy before the

face of the Cause of All.

4. Teoquecholme nechnananquilia in nicuicani coyolicahuacaya yectli

yacuicatlan, cozcapetlaticaya chachalchiuhquetzalitztonameyo

xopaleuhtimania xopan xochicuiatl onilhuica ahuiaxtimanio,

xochiahuachtitlan nihualcuicaya nicuicani.

4. The divine quechol bird answers me as I, the singer, sing, like

the coyol bird, a noble new song, polished like a jewel, a turquoise,

a shining emerald, darting green rays, a flower song of spring,

spreading celestial fragrance, fresh with the dews of roses, thus

have I the poet sung.

5. Nictlapalimatia nicxoxochineloaya yectli yancuicatlan

cozcapetlaticaya, etc.

5. I colored with skill, I mingled choice roses in a noble new song,

polished like a jewel, etc. (as in v. 4).

6. Nocontimaloaya nocontlamachtiao xochiteyolquima cuicatlan

poyomapoctli ic ye ahuian ye noyollo, nihualyolcuecuechahuaya,

nicinecuia ahuiaca, xocomiqui in noyolia, nicinecuia yectliya

xochitla netlamachtiloyan, xochi ye ihuinti noyolia.

6. I was glorified, I was enriched, by the flower-sweet song as by

the smoke of the poyomatl, my soul was contented, I trembled in

spirit, I inhaled the sweetness, my soul was intoxicated, I inhaled

the fragrance of delicious flowers in the place of riches, my soul

was drunken with the flowers.


A poem of unusually rich metaphors is presented, with the title “A

Song of the Mexicans, after the manner of the Otomis.” It is a

rhapsody, in which the bard sings his “faculty divine,” and describes

the intoxication of the poetic inspiration. It has every inherent

mark of antiquity, and its thought is free from any tincture of

European influence.

2. miahuatototl, literally, “the corn-silk bird,” miahua being

the term applied to the silk or tassel of the maize ear when in the

milk. I have not found its scientific designation.

6. poyomatl; the poyomatli is described by Sahagun (Hist. de la

Nueva Espaсa, Lib. X, cap. 24) as a species of rose, portions of

which were used to fill the cane tubes or pipes used for smoking. He

names it along with certain fungi employed for the same purpose, and

it probably produced a narcotic effect.

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