Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Ancient Nahuatl Poetry ||| ANOTHER

Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



1. Tleinmach oamaxque on in antocnihuan in an Chiapaneca Otomi,

omachamelelacic: in ic oamihuintiqueo octicatl in oanquique ic

oamihuintique, xicualcuican, in amo ma in anhuehuetztoqueo,

ximozcalicano in antocnihuan nipatiazque in tochano, xopantlalpan ye

nican, ma quiza in amihuintiliz, on xitlachiacano ohuican ye

anmaquia, O!

1. What have you done, O you our friends, you Chiapanecs and Otomis,

why have you grieved, that you were drunken with the wine which you

took, that you were drunken? Come hither and sing: do not lie

stretched out; arise, O friends, let us go to our houses here in this

land of spring; come forth from your drunkenness, see in what a

difficult place you must take it.

2. Ca yeppa yuhqui in tizaoctli in tlalticpac, quitemacao ohuican ic

tecalaquiao teoatl tlachinolli quitoao texaxamatzao teopopoloao on

canin xaxamanio in tlazochalchihiuitl, in teoxihuitl, in maquiztli

tlazotetl in tepilhuan in coninio in xochitizaoctlio cuel can in

antocnihuan in tonicahuacao.

2. For formerly it was so on earth that the white wine was taken in

difficult places, as on entering the battlefield, or, as it was said,

where the stones were broken and destroyed, where were broken into

fragments the lovely emeralds, the turquoises, the honored precious

stones, the youths, the children; therefore take the flowery white

wine, O friends and brothers.

3. Ma ye ticiti in xochitlalpan in tochan xochitlalticpacilhuicacpaco

in huel ic xochiamemeyallotl on ahuiaxtimani, teyolquima yoliliz

ahuach xochitl in tochan in Chiappan, oncan timalolo in teucyotl in

tlatocayotl in chimalxochitl oncuepontimani tonacatlalpan.

3. Let us drink it in the flowery land, in our dwelling surrounded by

the flowery earth and sky, where the fountains of the flowers send

their sweetness abroad; the delicious breath of the dewy flowers is

in our homes in Chiapas; there nobility and power make them glorious,

and the war-flowers bloom over a fertile land.

4. Quemach in amo antlacaquio in antocnihuan tohuian tohuiano

xicahuacano, in tizaoctlio teoatlachinoloctli; ma ye ticiti in ompa

tinectilo in tochan xochiahuachoctli, zan ic ahuiaca ihuinti in

toyollo, tetlamachtio teyolquimao tixochiachichinatihui

netlamachtiloyan in toquizayan xochitlalpan tonacatlalpan: tlemach

oamaxqueo? xichualcaquican in tocuic in tamocnihuan, etc.

4. Is it possible, oh friends, that you do not hear us? Let us go,

let us go, let us pour forth the white wine, the wine of battle; let

us drink where the wine sweet as the dew of roses is set forth in our

houses, let our souls be intoxicated with its sweetness; enriched,

steeped in delight, we shall soak up the water of the flowers in the

place of riches, going forth to a land of flowers, a fertile spot.

What have you done? Come hither and listen to our songs, O friends.


The second specimen from the muse of Tetlapan Quetzanitzin is the

noblest war song in the collection. It is an appeal to his friends to

join in a foray to Chiapas. The intoxication of the battle field is

compared to that produced by the strong white wine prepared from

maguey, which was drunk only on solemn occasions. The bard likens the

exhaustion of his fellow warriors from previous conflicts, to the

stupor which follows a debauch, and he exhorts them to throw it


1. oamaxque, o, pret. am, you, axque, 2d pl. pret. from


to do.

octicatl, apparently an old form from octli, the intoxicating

beverage prepared from the maguey.

oanquique, 2d pl. pret. from cui, to take.

ohuican, a place of difficulty and danger. The frequent addition of

the terminal o in this and the succeeding verses is merely


2. teoatl tlachinolli; see note VI, 4.

in maquiztli tlazotetl, the beloved jewels, a phrase which

indicates that the broken stones and splintered emeralds referred to

are the young warriors who fall in battle, the pride of their

parents’ hearts, who are destroyed in the fight.

The tizaoctli, white wine (tizatl, chalk, hence white, and

octli, wine), referred to in this passage, is said by Sahagun to

have been drunk especially at the feast of the god Papaztac, one of

the many gods of the wine cup. Hist. de Nueva Espaсa. Lib. II, App.

Tezozomoc mentions it as handed to the mourners at funeral

ceremonies. Cronica Mexicana, cap. 55.

3. xochitlalticpacilhtuicacpao; in this long compound of xochitl,

flower, tlalti, earth, and ilhuicatl, sky, with various

postpositions and the euphonic terminal o, the final pa gives the

sense of location, towards, in the direction of.

chimalxochiti; “the shield flower,” the shield or buckler of the

ancient warriors, ornamented with tassels and feathers, is not

unaptly called the flower of war.

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