Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations


Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



1. Zanio in xochitl tonequimilol, zanio in cuicatl ic huehuetzi in

tellel in Dios ye mochan.

1. I alone will clothe thee with flowers, mine alone is the song

which casts down our grief before God in thy house.

2. In mach noca ompolihuiz in cohuayotl mach noca in icniuhyotl in

ononoya in ye ichan; ye nio Yoyontzin on cuicatillano ye


2. True it is that my possessions shall perish, my friendships, their

home and their house; thus I, O Yoyontzin, pour forth songs to the

Giver of Life.

3. Ma xiuhquechol xochi, zan in tzinitzcan malintoca zan miqui huaqui

xochitl zan ic tonmoquimiloa can titlatoani ya ti Nezahualcoyotl.

3. Let the green quechol birds, let the tzinitzcan twine flowers for

us, only dying and withered flowers, that we may clothe thee with

flowers, thou ruler, thou Nezahualcoyotl.

4. Ma yan moyoliuh quimati in antepilhuan in anquauhtin amo celo ca

mochipan titocnihuan, zancuel achic nican timochitonyazque o ye


4. Ye youths and ye braves, skilled in wisdom, may you alone be our

friends, while for a moment here we shall enjoy this house.

5. Ca ye ompolihuiz in moteyo Nopiltzin, ti Tezozomoctli бca cб ye in

mocuica? aye a nihualchocao ca nihualicnotlamatica notia ye ichan.

5. For thy fame shall perish, Nopiltzin, and thou, Tezozomoc, where

are thy songs? No more do I cry aloud, but rest tranquil that ye have

gone to your homes.

6. An ca nihuallaocoya onicnotlamati ayo quico, ayoc quemanian,

namech aitlaquiuh in tlalticpac y icanontia ye ichan.

6. Ye whom I bewailed, I know nevermore, never again; I am sad here

on earth that ye have gone to your homes.


From the wording, this appears to be one of the lost songs of

Nezahualcoyotl, either composed by him or sung before him. (See the

Introduction, p. 35.) It is a funeral dirge, dwelling on the fact of

universal and inevitable death, and the transitoriness of life. There

is in it no hint of Christian consolation, no comfortable hope of

happiness beyond the grave. Hence it dates, in all likelihood, from a

period anterior to the arrival of the missionaries.

1. tonequimilol; I take this to be a derivative from quimiloa, to

wrap up, especially, to shroud the dead, to wrap the corpse in its

winding sheets, as was the custom of the ancient Mexicans. The word,

however, seems an archaic form, as it does not lend itself readily to


The expression in Dios, I explain as in the note to II, 1, and do

not consider that it detracts from the authentic antiquity of the


2. yoyontzin; on the significance of this appellation of

Nezahualcoyotl, see Introduction, p. 35.

3. ti Nezahualcoyotl; “thou Nezahualcoyotl.” The princely poet may

have addressed himself in this expression, or we may suppose the song

was chanted before him.

5. Nopiltzin; the reference is to Quetzalcoatl, the famous “fair

God” of the Nahuas, and in myth, the last ruler of the Toltecs. See

D.G. Brinton, American Hero Myths (Philadelphia, 1882). The term

means “my beloved Lord.” On Tezozomoc, see Introduction, p. 35.

6. The text of the latter part or refrain of verses 5 and 6 is

corrupt, and my translation is doubtful.

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