Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Ancient Nahuatl Poetry ||| THE REIGN OF TEZOZOMOCTLI

Category: Ancient Nahuatl Poetry



1. Zan ca tzihuactitlan, mizquititlan, aiyahue Chicomoztocpa, mochi

ompa yahuitze antlătohuan ye nican, ohuaya, ohuaya.

1. From the land of the tzihuac bushes, from the land of the mezquite

bushes, where was ancient Chicomoztoc, thence came all your rulers


2. Nican momalinaco in colcahuahtecpillotl huiya nican milacatzoa in

Colhuaca Chichimecayotl in toteuchuahuia.

2. Here unrolled itself the royal line of Colhuacan, here our nobles

of Colhuacan, united with the Chichimecs.

3. Ma oc achitzinca xomotlanecuican antepilhuan huiya tlacateuhtzin

Huitzilihuitl a ya cihuacoatl y Quauhxilotl huia totomihuacan

Tlalnahuacatl aya zan ca xiuhtototl Ixtlilxochitl y quenman

tlatzihuiz quimohmoyahuaquiuh yauh y tepeuh yehuan Dios ica ye choca

Tezozomoctli ohuaya ohuaya.

3. Sing for a little while concerning these, O children, the

sovereign Huitzilihuitl, the judge Quauhxilotl, of our bold leader

Tlalnahuacatl, of the proud bird Ixtlilxochitl, those who went forth,

and conquered and ruled before God, and bewail Tezozomoctli.

4. Yenoceppa mizquitl yacahuantimani Hueytlalpani, anquican itlatol

yehuan Dios a ohuaya, ohuaya.

4. A second time they left the mezquite bushes in Hue Tlalpan,

obeying the order of God.

5. Can onyeyauh xochitl, can oyeyauh yeh intoca quauhtli ocelotl huia

ya moyahuaya xelihuia Atloyantepetl Hueytlalpan y anquizan itlatol

ipalnemohua ohuaya ohuaya.

5. They go where are the flowers, where they may gain grandeur and

power, dividing asunder they leave the mountain Atloyan and Hue

Tlalpan, obeying the order of the Giver of Life.

6. Oncuiltonoloc, onechtlachtiloc, in teteuctin cemanahuac y huel

zotoca huipantoca y tlătol ipalnemohuani, huel quimothuitico, huel

quiximatico y yollo yehuan Dios huiya chalchihuitl maquiztliya

tlamatelolliya tizatla ihuitla za xochitl quimatico yaoyotla ohuaya


6. It is cause of rejoicing, that I am enabled to see our rulers from

all parts gathering together, arranging in order the words of the

Giver of Life, and that their souls are caused to see and to know

that God is precious, wonderful, a sweet ointment, and that they are

known as flowers of wise counsel in the affairs of war.

7. Oya in Tochin y miec acalcatli, Acolmiztlan teuctli zan Catocih

teuctli Yohuallatonoc y yehuan Cuetzpaltzin Iztaccoyotl totomihuacan

Tlaxcallan ohuaye Coatziteuctli Huitlalotzin za xochitl quimatico

yaoyotla ohuaya ohuaya.

7. There were Tochin, with many boats, the noble Acolmiztlan, the

noble Catocih, Yohuallatonoc, and Cuetzpaltzin, and Iztaccoyotl, bold

leaders from Tlaxcalla, and Coatziteuctli, and Huitlalotzin, famed as

flowers on the field of battle.

8. Tley an quiyocoya anteteuctin y Huexotzinca? ma xontlachiacan

Acolihuăcan in quatlapanca oncan ye Huexotla itztapallocan huia

yeyahuatimani Atloyantepetl a ohuaya.

8. For what purpose do you make your rulers, men of Huexotzinco? Look

at Acolhuacan where the men of Huexotzinco are broken with toil, are

trod upon like paving stones, and wander around the mountain Atloyan.

9. Oncan in pochotl ahuehuetl oncan icaca mizquitl ye oztotlhuiă

tetlaquahuac quimatia ipalnemohuani oyao ai ya hue ohuaya.

9. There is a ceiba tree, a cypress tree, there stands a mezquite

bush, strong as a cavern of stone, known as the Giver of Life.

10. Tlacateotl nopiltzin Chichimecatl y tleonmach itla techcocolia

Tezozomoctli tech in micitlani ye ehuaya atayahuili quinequia yaoyotl

necaliztlon quima Acolhuacan ohuaya.

10. Ruler of men, Nopiltzin, Chicimec, O Tezozomoctli, why hast thou

made us sick, why brought us to death, through not desiring to offer

war and battle to Acolhuacan?

11. Tel ca tonehua ticahuiltia ipalnemohuani Colihua o o Mexicatl y

tlahcateotl huiaya atayahuili quinequia yaoyotl necaliztl qui mana

Acolhuacan a ohuaya ohuaya.

11. But we lift up our voice and rejoice in the Giver of life; the

men of Colhuacan and the Mexican leader have ruined us, through not

desiring to offer war and battle to Acolhuacan.

12. Zan ye on necuiltonolo in tlalticpac ay oppan titlano chimalli

xochitl ay oppan ahuiltilon ipalnemohua; ye ic anauia in tlailotlaqui

xayacamacha huia ho ay ya yi ee ohuaya ha ohuaya.

12. The only joy on earth will be again to send the shield-flower,

again to rejoice the Giver of Life; already are discontented the

faces of the workers in filth.

13. Inacon anquelehuia chimalli xochitl y yohual xochitli

tlăchinol xochitl; ye ic neyahpanalo antepilhuan huiya

Quetzalmamatzin Huitznahuacatl ohuaye ho ha yia yi ee oua yi aha


13. Therefore you rejoice in the shield-flowers, the flowers of

night, the flowers of battle; already are ye clothed, ye children of

Quetzalmamatzin and Huitznahuacatl.

14. Chimal tenamitl oncan in nemohua yehua necalia huilotl oyahualla

icahuaca yehuaya on canin ye nemi in tecpipiltin Xiuhtzin

xayacamachani amehuano o anconahuiltia ipalnemohua ohuaya.

14. Your shield and your wall of safety are where dwells the sweet

joy of war, where it comes, and sings and lifts its voice, where

dwell the nobles, the precious stones, making known their faces; thus

you give joy to the Giver of Life.

15. In ma huel netotilo mannemamanaloya yaonahuac a on

netlamachtiloyan ipan nechihuallano ohuaye in tepiltzin can ye

mocuetlaca ohuaya, ohuaya.

15. Let your dancing, and banqueting be in the battle, there be your

place of gain, your scene of action, where the noble youths perish.

16. Quetzalipantica oyo huiloa ahuiltiloni ipalnemohuan yectlahuacan

in tapalcayocan a ohuaya ohuaya.

16. Dressed in their feathers they go rejoicing the Giver of Life to

the excellent place, the place of shards.

17. Oyo hualehuaya ye tocalipan oyohua yehua Huexotzincatl y

tototihua o o Iztaccoyotla ohuaya ohuaya.

17. He lifted up his voice in our houses like a bird, that man of

Huexotzinco, Iztaccoyotl.

18. Ace melle ica tonăcoquiza y nican topantilemonti Tlaxcaltecatl

itocoya cacalia in altepetl y Huexochinco ya ohuaya.

18. Whoever is aggrieved let him come forth with us against the men

of Tlaxcallan, let him follow where the city of Huexotzinco lets

drive its arrows.

19. Cauhtimanizo polihuiz tlalli yan totomihuacan huia cehuiz yiollo

o antepilhuan a Huexotzinca y ohuaya ohuaya.

19. Our leaders will lay waste, they will destroy the land, and your

children, O Huexotzincos, will have peace of mind.

20. Mizquitl y mancan tzihuactli y mancan ahuehuetl onicacahuia

ipalnemohua, xonicnotlamati mochi elimanca Huexotzinco ya zanio oncan

in huel on mani tlalla ohuaya ohuaya.

20. The mezquite was there, the tzihuac was there, the Giver of Life

has set up the cypress; be sad that evil has befallen Huexotzinco,

that it stands alone in the land.

21. Zan nohuian tlaxixinia tlamomoyahua y ayoc anmocehuia

momăcehual y hualcaco mocuic in icelteotl oc xoconyocoyacan

antepilhuan a ohuaya ohuaya.

21. In all parts there are destruction and desolation, no longer are

there protection and safety, nor has the one only God heard the song;

therefore speak it again, you children;

22. Zan mocuepa itlatol conahuiloa ipalnemohua Tepeyacac ohuaye

antepilhuan ohuaya ohuaya.

22. That the words may be repeated, you children, and give joy to the

Giver of Life at Tepeyacan.

23. Canel amonyazque xoconmolhuican an Tlaxcalteca y Tlacomihuatzin

hui oc oyauh itlachinol ya yehuan Dios a ohuaya.

23. And since you are going, you Tlaxcallans, call upon

Tlacomihuatzin that he may yet go to this divine war.

24. Cozcatl ihuihui quetzal nĕhuihuia oc zo conhuipanque zan

Chichimeca y Totomihua a Iztaccoyotl a ohuaya ohuaya.

24. The Chichimecs and the leaders and Iztaccoyotl have with

difficulty and vain labor arranged and set in order their jewels and


25. Huexotzinco ya zan quiauhtzinteuctli techcocolia Mexicatl

itechcocolia Acolihuiao ach quennelotihua tonyazque quenonamican a

ohuaye ohuaye.

25. At Huexotzinco the ruler Quiauhtzin hates the Mexicans, hates the

Acolhuacans; when shall we go to mix with them, to meet them?

26. Ay antlayocoya anquimitoa in amotahuan an teteuctin ayoquantzin

ihuan a in tlepetztic in cacha ohuaya tzihuacpopoca yo huaya.

26. Set to work and speak, you fathers, to your rulers, to your

lords, that they may make a blazing fire of the smoking tzihuac wood.

27. Ca zan catcan Chalco Acolihuaca huia totomihuacan y amilpan in

Quauhquecholla quixixinia in ipetl icpal yehuan Dios ohoaya ohuaya.

27. The Acolhuacans were at Chalco, the Otomies were in your

cornfields at Quauhquechollan, they laid them waste by the permission

of God.

28. Tlazoco a ye nican tlalli tepetl yecocoliloya cemanahuac a


28. The fields and hills are ravaged, the whole land has been laid


29. Quennel conchihuazque atl popoca itlacoh in teuctli tlalli

mocuepaya Mictlan onmatia Cacamatl onteuctli, quennel conchihuazque,

ohuaya ohuaya.

29. What remedy can they turn to? Water and smoke have spoiled the

land of the rulers; they have gone back to Mictlan attaching

themselves to the ruler Cacamatl. What remedy can they turn to?


This extremely difficult composition seems to be a war song, in which

the bard refers to the traditional history of the Nahuas, names some

of their most prominent warriors, and incites his hearers to deeds of

prowess on the battle field. I do not claim for my version more than

a general correspondence to the thought of the original. In several

parts, especially verse 18, the text is obviously defective.

1. tzihuactitlan; “the land of the tzihuac bushes.” The tzihuactli

is a small kind of maguey which grows in rocky localities. The tenth

edifice of the great temple at Tenochtitlan was a wall surrounding an

artificial rockery planted with these bushes. Sahagun, who mentions

this fact, adds that the name of this edifice was Teotlalpan, which

literally means “on holy ground.” (Hist. de la Nueva Espaсa, Lib.

II, App.) The mizquitl is the common Mimosa circinalis.

Chicomoztoc; “at the Seven Caves,” a famous locality in Mexican

legend, and the supposed birthplace of their race.

2. Colhuacan is probably for Acolhuacan; the early rulers of the

latter were of the blood of the Chichimec chiefs of the Tepanecas.

4. Hueytlalpan, “at the ancient land,” perhaps for Huetlapallan, a

1ocality often referred to in the migration myths of the Nahuas.

5. Atloyan; see note to XIII, 6.

9. The ceiba and cypress trees were employed figuratively to indicate

protection and safeguard. See Olmos, Gram. de la Langue Nahuatl, p.


12. On tlailotlaqui, see note to XIII, 8. The interjectional

appendages to this and the following verse are increased.

15. Tepeyacan was the name of a mountain on which before the Conquest

was a temple dedicated to the “Mother of our Life,” Tonantzin.

16. tlapalcayocan, “the place of shards,” of broken pieces, i.e.,

the field of battle.

19. The word totomihuacan, which has already occurred in vv. 3 and

7, I have translated as referring to the war captains of the Mexican

armies, called otomi (see Bandelier, On the Art of War of the

Ancient Mexicans, p. 117). I am quite open for correction however.

27. in ipetl icpal; in a translation of an ancient song,

Ixtlilxochitl renders the expression in ipetl icpal in teotl, “en

el trono y tribunal de Dios,” Historia Chichimeca, cap. 32.

29. Mictlan; the place of departed souls in Aztec mythology.

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