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Ancient Nahuatl Poetry - Brinton's Library of Aboriginal American Literature Number VII.
by Daniel G. Brinton
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[* Transcriber's note: The following substitutions have been made for diacritical marks in the original text which are not available at DP:

For vowels with a breve: ă, ĕ, ĭ, ŏ, ŭ.

For vowels with a macron: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. *]



ANCIENT NAHUATL POETRY,

CONTAINING THE NAHUATL TEXT OF XXVII ANCIENT MEXICAN POEMS.



BRITON'S LIBRARY OF ABORIGINAL AMERICAN LITERATURE,

NUMBER VII.



WITH A TRANSLATION, INTRODUCTION, NOTES AND VOCABULARY.



BY

DANIEL G. BRINTON



1890



PREFACE.

It is with some hesitation that I offer this volume to the scientific public. The text of the ancient songs which it contains offers extreme and peculiar difficulties to the translator, and I have been obliged to pursue the task without assistance of any kind. Not a line of them has ever before been rendered into an European tongue, and my endeavors to obtain aid from some of the Nahuatl scholars of Mexico have, for various reasons, proved ineffectual. I am therefore alone responsible for errors and misunderstandings.

Nevertheless, I have felt that these monuments of ancient native literature are so interesting in themselves, and so worthy of publication, that they should be placed at the disposition of scholars in their original form with the best rendering that I could give them at present, rather than to await the uncertain event of years for a better.

The text itself may be improved by comparison with the original MS. and with the copy previously made by the Licentiate Chimalpopoca, referred to on page 48. My own efforts in this direction have been confined to a faithful reproduction in print of the MS. copy of the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg.

The Notes, which might easily have been extended, I have confined within moderate compass, so as not to enlarge unduly the bulk of the volume.

To some, the Vocabulary may seem inadequate. I assume that those persons who wish to make a critical study of the original text will provide themselves with the Nahuatl Dictionaries of Molina or Simeon, both of which are now easily obtainable, thanks to Mr. Julius Platzmann for the reprint of Molina. I also assume that such students will acquaint themselves with the rules of grammar and laws of word-building of the tongue, and that they will use the vocabulary merely as a labor-saving means of reaching the themes of compounds and unusual forms of words. Employed in this manner, it will, I hope, be found adequate.

In conclusion, I would mention that there is a large body of Nahuatl literature yet unpublished, both prose and poetry, modern and ancient, and as the Nahuatl tongue is one of the most highly developed on the American continent, it is greatly to be desired that all this material should be at the command of students. The Nahuatl, moreover, is not a difficult tongue; for an Englishman or a Frenchman, I should say it is easier to acquire than German, its grammar being simple and regular, and its sounds soft and sonorous. It has special recommendations, therefore, to one who would acquaint himself with an American language.



CONTENTS.



PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

Sec. 1. THE NATIONAL LOVE OF POETRY Sec. 2. THE POET AND HIS WORK Sec. 3. THE THEMES AND CLASSES OF THE SONGS Sec. 4. PROSODY OF THE SONGS Sec. 5. THE VOCAL DELIVERY OF THE SONGS Sec. 6. THE INSTRUMENTAL ACCOMPANIMENT Sec. 7. THE POETIC DIALECT Sec. 8. THE PRESERVATION OF THE ANCIENT SONGS Sec. 9. THE LX SONGS OF THE KING NEZAHUALCOYOTL Sec. 10. THE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT COLLECTION

ANCIENT NAHUATL POEMS:

I. SONG AT THE BEGINNING II. A SPRING SONG, AN OTOMI SONG, A PLAIN SONG III. ANOTHER PLAIN SONG IV. AN OTOMI SONG OF THE MEXICANS V. ANOTHER PLAIN SONG OF THE MEXICANS VI. ANOTHER CHALCO-SONG, A POEM OF TETLAPAN QUETZANITZIN VII. ANOTHER VIII. COMPOSED BY A CERTAIN RULER IN MEMORY OF FORMER RULERS IX. AN OTOMI SONG OF SADNESS X. A SPRING SONG OF THE MEXICANS XI. ANOTHER XII. A SPRING SONG, A SONG OF EXHORTATION, BECAUSE CERTAIN ONES DID NOT GO TO WAR XIII. A SONG OF HUEXOTZINCO XIV. A CHRISTIAN SONG XV. THE REIGN OF TEZOZOMOCTLI XVI. A SONG URGING TO WAR XVII. A FLOWER SONG XVIII. A SONG OF TOLLAN XIX. A CHRISTIAN SONG XX. A SONG LAMENTING THE TOLTECS XXI. A SONG OF THE HUEXOTZINCOS, COMING TO ASK AID OF MONTEZUMA AGAINST TLAXCALLA XXII. A FLOWER SONG XXIII. A SONG OF THE PRINCE NEZAHUALCOYOTL XXIV. ANOTHER XXV. A SONG OF LAMENTATION XXVI. A SONG RELATING TO THE LORD NEZAHUALPILLI XXVII. A CHRISTIAN SONG

NOTES

VOCABULARY

INDEX OF NAHUATL PROPER NAMES, WITH EXPLANATIONS

FOOTNOTES



ANCIENT NAHUATL POETRY.



INTRODUCTION.

Sec. 1. THE NATIONAL LOVE OF POETRY.

The passionate love with which the Nahuas cultivated song, music and the dance is a subject of frequent comment by the historians of Mexico. These arts are invariably mentioned as prominent features of the aboriginal civilization; no public ceremony was complete without them; they were indispensable in the religious services held in the temples; through their assistance the sacred and historical traditions were preserved; and the entertainments of individuals received their chief lustre and charm from their association with these arts.

The profession of the poet stood in highest honor. It was the custom before the Conquest for every town, every ruler and every person of importance to maintain a company of singers and dancers, paying them fixed salaries, and the early writer, Duran, tells us that this custom continued in his own time, long after the Conquest. He sensibly adds, that he can see nothing improper in it, although it was condemned by some of the Spaniards.[1] In the training of these artists their patrons took a deep personal interest, and were not at all tolerant of neglected duties. We are told that the chief selected the song which was to be sung, and the tune by which it was to be accompanied; and did any one of the choir sing falsely, a drummer beat out of time, or a dancer strike an incorrect attitude, the unfortunate artist was instantly called forth, placed in bonds and summarily executed the next morning![2]

With critics of such severity to please, no wonder that it was necessary to begin the training early, and to set apart for it definite places and regular teachers. Therefore it was one of the established duties of the teachers in the calmecac or public school, "to teach the pupils all the verses of the sacred songs which were written in characters in their books."[3] There were also special schools, called cuicoyan, singing places, where both sexes were taught to sing the popular songs and to dance to the sound of the drums.[4] In the public ceremonies it was no uncommon occurrence for the audience to join in the song and dance until sometimes many thousands would thus be seized with the contagion of the rhythmical motion, and pass hours intoxicated (to use a favorite expression of the Nahuatl poets) with the cadence and the movement.

After the Conquest the Church set its face firmly against the continuance of these amusements. Few of the priests had the liberal views of Father Duran, already quoted; most of them were of the opinion of Torquemada, who urges the clergy "to forbid the singing of the ancient songs, because all of them are full of idolatrous memories, or of diabolical and suspicious allusions of the same character."[5]

To take the place of the older melodies, the natives were taught the use of the musical instruments introduced by the Spaniards, and very soon acquired no little proficiency, so that they could perform upon them, compose original pieces, and manufacture most of the instruments themselves.[6]

To this day the old love of the song and dance continues in the Indian villages; and though the themes are changed, the forms remain with little alteration. Travelers describe the movements as slow, and consisting more in bending and swaying the body than in motions of the feet; while the songs chanted either refer to some saint or biblical character, or are erotic and pave the way to orgies.[7]

Sec. 2. THE POET AND HIS WORK.

The Nahuatl word for a song or poem is cuicatl. It is derived from the verb cuica, to sing, a term probably imitative or onomatopoietic in origin, as it is also a general expression for the twittering of birds. The singer was called cuicani, and is distinguished from the composer of the song, the poet, to whom was applied the term cuicapicqui, in which compound the last member, picqui, corresponds strictly to the Greek poiaetaes, being a derivative of piqui, to make, to create.[8] Sometimes he was also called cuicatlamantini, "skilled in song."

It is evident from these words, all of which belong to the ancient language, that the distinction between the one who composed the poems and those who sang them was well established, and that the Nahuatl poetry was, therefore, something much above mere improvisation, as some have thought. This does not alter the fact that a professed bard usually sang songs of his own composition, as well as those obtained from other sources. This is obvious from the songs in this collection, many of which contain the expression ni cuicani, I, the singer, which also refers to the maker of the song.

In the classical work of Sahagun, the author describes the ancient poet: "The worthy singer has a clear mind and a strong memory. He composes songs himself and learns those of others, and is always ready to impart either to the fellows of his craft. He sings with a well-trained voice, and is careful to practice in private before he appears before the public. The unworthy singer, on the other hand, is ignorant and indolent. What he learns he will not communicate to others. His voice is hoarse and untrained, and he is at once envious and boastful."[9]

Sec. 3. THE THEMES AND CLASSES OF THE SONGS.

From what he could learn about them some two centuries or more after the Conquest, the antiquary Boturini classified all the ancient songs under two general heads, the one treating mainly of historical themes, while the other was devoted to purely fictitious, emotional or imaginative subjects.[10] His terse classification is expanded by the Abbe Clavigero, who states that the themes of the ancient poets were various, some chanting the praises of the gods or petitioning them for favors, others recalled the history of former generations, others were didactic and inculcated correct habits of life, while others, finally, were in lighter vein, treating of hunting, games and love.[11]

His remarks were probably a generalization from a chapter in Torquemada's Monarquia Indiana, in which that writer states that the songs at the sacred festivals differed in subject with the different months and seasons. Thus, in the second month of their calendar, at its stated festival, the people sang the greatness of their rulers; in the seventh month all the songs were of love, of women, or of hunting; in the eighth the chants recalled the noble deeds of their ancestors and their divine origin; while in the ninth month nothing was heard but verses fraught with lamentation for the dead.[12] With less minuteness, Father Duran gives almost the same information. He himself had often heard the songs which Montezuma of Tenochtitlan, and Nezahualpizintli of Tezcuco, had ordered to be composed in their own honor, describing their noble lineage, their riches, their grandeur and their victories. These songs were in his day still sung at the public dances of the natives, and he adds, "although they were filled with laudation of their ancient rulers, it gave me much pleasure to hear the praises of such grandeur." There were other poets, he observes, who lived in the temples and composed songs exclusively in honor of the gods.[13]

These general expressions may be supplemented by a list of terms, specifying particular classes of songs, preserved by various writers. These are as follows:—

melahuacuicatl: this is translated by Tezozomoc, "a straight and true song."[14] It is a compound of melahuac, straight, direct, true; and cuicatl, song. It was a beginning or opening song at the festivals, and apparently derived its name from its greater intelligibility and directness of expression. A synonym, derived from the same root, is tlamelauhcayotl, which appears in the title to some of the songs in the present collection.

xopancuicatl: this term is spelled by Ixtlilxochitl, xompacuicatl, and explained to mean "a song of the spring" (from xopan, springtime, cuicatl, song). The expression seems to be figurative, referring to the beginning or early life of things. Thus, the prophetic songs of Nezahualcoyotl, those which he sang when he laid the foundation of his great palace, bore this name.[15]

teuccuicatl: songs of the nobles (teuctli, cuicatl). These were also called quauhcuicatl, "eagle songs," the term quauhtli, eagle, being applied to distinguished persons.

xochicuicatl: flower-song, one singing the praises of flowers.

icnocuicatl: song of destitution or compassion.

noteuhcuicaliztli: "the song of my lords." This appears to be a synonymous expression for teuccuicatl; it is mentioned by Boturini, who adds that on the day sacred to the god Xiuhteuctli the king began the song so called.[16]

miccacuicatl: the song for the dead (miqui, to die, cuicatl). In this solemn chant the singers were seated on the ground, and their hair was twisted in plaits around their heads.[17]

In addition to the above terms drawn from the subject or character of the songs, there were others, of geographical origin, apparently indicating that the song, or its tune, or its treatment was borrowed from another locality or people. These are:—

Huexotzincayotl: a song of Huexotzinco, a Nahuatl town, situated east of the Lake of Tezcuco. This song was sung by the king and superior nobles at certain festivals, and, in the prescribed order of the chants, followed a melahuaccuicatl.[18]

Chalcayotl: a song of Chalco, on the lake of the same name. This followed the last mentioned in order of time at the festivals.

Otoncuicatl: a song of the Otomis. These were the immediate neighbors of the Nahuas, but spoke a language radically diverse. The songs so-called were sung fourth on the list.

Cuextecayotl: a song of the country of the Cuexteca, or Cuextlan, a northern province of Mexico.

Tlauancacuextecayotl: a song of the country of the Tlauancacuexteca.

Anahuacayotl: a song of Anahuac, that is, of a country near the water, either the valley of Mexico, or the shores of the ocean.

Some very ancient sacred songs were referred to by Tezozomoc as peculiar to the worship of Huitzilopochtli, and, indeed, introduced by this potent divinity. From their names, cuitlaxoteyotl, and tecuilhuicuicatl,[19] I judge that they referred to some of those pederastic rites which still prevail extensively among the natives of the pueblos of New Mexico, and which have been described by Dr. William A. Hammond and other observers.[20] One of these songs began,

Cuicoyan nohuan mitotia;

In-the-place-of-song with-me they-dance.

But the old chronicler, who doubtless knew it all by heart, gives us no more of it.[21]

Sec. 4. PROSODY OF THE SONGS.

The assertion is advanced by Boturini that the genuine ancient Nahuatl poetry which has been preserved is in iambic metre, and he refers to a song of Nezahualcoyotl in his collection to prove his opinion. What study I have given to the prosody of the Nahuatl tongue leads me to doubt the correctness of so sweeping a statement. The vocalic elements of the language have certain peculiarities which prevent its poetry from entering unencumbered into the domain of classical prosody.

The quantity of Nahuatl syllables is a very important element in the pronunciation of the tongue, but their quantity is not confined, as in Latin, to long, short, and common. The Nahuatl vowels are long, short, intermediate, and "with stress," or as the Spanish grammarians say, "with a jump," con saltillo. The last mentioned is peculiar to this tongue. The vowel so designated is pronounced with a momentary suspension or catching of the breath, rendering it emphatic.

These quantities are prominent features in the formal portions of the language, characterizing inflections and declinations. No common means of designating them have been adopted by the grammarians, and for my present purpose, I shall make use of the following signs:—

ă , short.

a , intermediate.

ā , long.

a , with stress.

The general prosodic rules are:—

1. In polysyllabic words in which there are no long vowels, all the vowels are intermediate.

2. The vowels are long in the penultimate of the plurals of the imperatives when the preterit of the verb ends in a vowel; the ā of the cān of the imperatives; the ī of the ; of the gerundives; the last vowel of the futures when the verb loses a vowel to form them; the penultimates of passives in lo, of impersonals, of verbals in oni, illi, olli and oca, of verbal nouns with the terminations yan and can; the ō of abstract nouns in otl in composition; and those derived from long syllables.

3. Vowels are "with stress" when they are the finals in the plurals of nouns and verbs, also in the perfect preterite, in possessives ending in a, e, o, and in the penultimate of nouns ending in tli, tla and tle when these syllables are immediately preceded by the vowel.[22]

The practical importance of these distinctions may be illustrated by the following examples:—

tatli, = father.

tātlĭ, = thou drinkest.

tātli, = we drink.

It is, however, evident from this example that the quantity of Nahuatl syllables enters too much into the strictly formal part of the language for rules of position, such as some of those above given, to be binding; and doubtless for this reason the eminent grammarian Carlos de Tapia Zenteno, who was professor of the tongue in the University of Mexico, denies that it can be reduced to definite rules of prosody like those of the Latin.[23]

Substituting accent for quantity, there would seem to be an iambic character to the songs. Thus the first words of Song I, were probably chanted:—

Nino' yolno' notza' campa' nicŭ iz' yec tli' ahui aca' xochitl': etc.

But the directions given for the drums at the beginning of Songs XVIII, XIX, etc., do not indicate a continuance of these feet, but of others, as in XIX:—

u—, u—, u—, uu—, u—, u—, u—, etc.

Indeed, we may suppose that the metre varied with the subject and the skill of the poet. This, in fact, is the precise statement of Father Duran,[24] who speaks of the native poets as "giving to each song a different tune (sonada), as we are accustomed in our poetry to have the sonnet, the octava rima and the terceto."

Sec. 5. THE VOCAL DELIVERY OF THE SONG.

Descriptions of the concerts so popular among the Nahuas have been preserved by the older writers, and it is of the highest importance to understand their methods in order to appreciate the songs presented in this volume.

These concerts were held on ceremonial occasions in the open air, in the village squares or in the courtyards of the houses. They began in the morning and usually continued until nightfall, occasionally far into the night. The musicians occupied the centre of the square and the trained singers stood or sat around them. When the sign was given to begin, the two most skillful singers, sometimes a man and a woman, pronounced the first syllables of the song slowly but with a sharp emphasis;[25] then the drums began in a low tone, and gradually increased in strength as the song proceeded; the other singers united their voices until the whole chorus was in action, and often the bystanders, to the numbers of thousands, would ultimately join in the words of some familiar song, keeping time by concerted movements of the hands and feet.

Each verse or couplet of the song was repeated three or four times before proceeding to the next, and those songs which were of the slowest measure and least emotional in character were selected for the earlier hours of the festivals. None of the songs was lengthy, even the longest, in spite of the repetitions, rarely lasting over an hour.[26]

The tone in which the words were chanted is described by Clavigero, Muehlenpfordt and other comparatively recent travelers as harsh, strident and disagreeable to the European ear. Mendieta calls it a "contra-bass," and states that persons gifted with such a voice cultivated it assiduously and were in great demand. The Nahuas call it tozquitl, the singing voice, and likened it to the notes of sweet singing birds.

Sec. 6. THE INSTRUMENTAL ACCOMPANIMENT.

The Nahuas were not acquainted with any stringed instrument. They manufactured, however, a variety of objects from which they could extract what seemed to them melodious sounds. The most important were two forms of drums, the huehuetl and the teponaztli.

The word huehuetl means something old, something ancient, and therefore important and great. The drum so-called was a hollow cylinder of wood, thicker than a man's body, and usually about five palms in height. The end was covered with tanned deerskin, firmly stretched. The sides were often elaborately carved and tastefully painted. This drum was placed upright on a stand in front of the player and the notes were produced by striking the parchment with the tips of the fingers.

A smaller variety of this instrument was called tlapanhuehuetl, or the half drum, which was of the same diameter but only half the height.[27] Still another variety was the yopihuehuetl, "the drum which tears out the heart,"[28] so called either by reason of its penetrating and powerful sound, or because it was employed at the Yopico, where that form of human sacrifice was conducted.

The teponaztli was a cylindrical block of wood hollowed out below, and on its upper surface with two longitudinal parallel grooves running nearly from end to end, and a third in the centre at right angles to these, something in the shape of the letter I. The two tongues left between the grooves were struck with balls of rubber, ulli, on the ends of handles or drum sticks. These instruments varied greatly in size, some being five feet in length, and others so small that they could conveniently be carried suspended to the neck. The teponaztli was the house instrument of the Nahuas. It was played in the women's apartments to amuse the noble ladies, and the war captains carried one at the side to call the attention of their cohorts on the field of battle (Sahagun). The word is derived from the name of the tree whose wood was selected to make the drum, and this in turn from the verb tepunazoa, to swell, probably from some peculiarity of its growth.[29]

A much superior instrument to the teponaztli, and doubtless a development from it, was the tecomapiloa, "the suspended vase" (tecomatl, gourd or vase, piloa, to hang or suspend). It was a solid block of wood, with a projecting ridge on its upper surface and another opposite, on its lower aspect; to the latter one or more gourds or vases were suspended, which increased and softened the sound when the upper ridge was struck with the ulli.[30] This was undoubtedly the origin of the marimba, which I have described elsewhere.[31]

The musical properties of these drums have been discussed by Theodor Baker. The teponaztli, he states, could yield but two notes, and could not have been played in accord with the huehuetl. It served as an imperfect contra-bass.[32]

The omichicahuaz, "strong bone," was constructed somewhat on the principle of a teponaztli. A large and long bone was selected, as the femur of a man or deer, and it was channeled by deep longitudinal incisions. The projections left between the fissures were rasped with another bone or a shell, and thus a harsh but varied sound could be produced.[33]

The tetzilacatl, the "vibrator" or "resounder," was a sheet of copper suspended by a cord, which was struck with sticks or with the hand. It appears to have been principally confined to the sacred music in the temples.

The ayacachtli was a rattle formed of a jar of earthenware or a dried gourd containing pebbles which was fastened to a handle, and served to mark time in the songs and dances. An extension of this simple instrument was the ayacachicahualiztli, "the arrangement of rattles," which was a thin board about six feet long and a span wide, to which were attached bells, rattles and cylindrical pieces of hard wood. Shaking this produced a jingle-jangle, agreeable to the native ear. The Aztec bells of copper, tzilinilli, are really metallic rattles, like our sleigh bells. They are often seen in collections of Mexican antiquities. Other names for them were coyolliyoyotli. and

Various forms of flutes and fifes, made of reeds, of bone or of pottery, were called by names derived from the word pitzaua, to blow (e.g., tlapitzalli, uilacapitzli), and sometimes, as being punctured with holes, zozoloctli, from zotl, the awl or instrument used in perforating skins, etc. Many of those made of earthenware have been preserved, and they appear to have been a highly-esteemed instrument, as Sahagun mentions that the leader of the choir of singers in the temple bore the title tlapitzcatzin, "the noble flute player."

Large conches were obtained on the seashore and framed into wind instruments called quiquiztli and tecciztli, whose hoarse notes could be heard for long distances, and whistles of wood, bone and earthenware added their shrill notes to the noise of the chanting of the singers. The shell of the tortoise, ayotl, dried and suspended, was beaten in unison with such instruments.

Recent researches by competent musical experts conducted upon authentic specimens of the ancient Mexican instruments have tended to elevate our opinion of their skill in this art. Mr. H.T. Cresson, of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, has critically examined the various Aztec clay flutes, whistles, etc., which are there preserved, and has reached the following conclusions:—

"I. That upon the four-holed clay flageolets the chromatic and diatonic scales can be produced with a full octave.

"II. That the clay whistles or pitch pipes, which may be manipulated in quartette, will produce an octave and a fourth.

"III. From the facts above shown, the Aztecs must have possessed a knowledge of the scales as known to us, which has been fully tested by comparison with the flute and organ."[34]

This result indicates for the instrumental accompaniment a much higher position in musical notation than has hitherto been accepted.

Sec. 7. THE POETIC DIALECT.

All the old writers who were familiar with the native songs speak of their extreme obscurity, and the difficulty of translating them. No one will question the intimate acquaintance with the Nahuatl language possessed by Father Sahagun; yet no one has expressed more strongly than he the vagueness of the Nahuatl poetic dialect. "Our enemy on earth," he writes, "has prepared a thick woods and a dangerous ground full of pitfalls, wherein to devise his evil deeds and to hide himself from attack, as do wild beasts and venomous serpents. This woods and these pitfalls are the songs which he has inspired to be used in his service, as praises to his honor, in the temples and elsewhere; because they are composed with such a trick that they proclaim only what the devil commands, and are understood only by those to whom they are addressed. It is well known that the cavern, woods or depths in which the devil hides himself were these chants or psalms which he himself has composed, and which cannot be understood in their true significance except by those who are accustomed to the peculiar style of their language."[35]

Not less positive are the expressions of Father Diego Duran, contemporary of Sahagun, and himself well versed in the native tongue. "All their songs," he observes, "were composed in such obscure metaphors that scarcely any one can understand them unless he give especial attention to their construction."[36] The worthy Boturini was puzzled by those which he had collected, and writes, "the songs are difficult to explain, because they mystify historical facts with constant allegorizing,"[37] and Boturini's literary executor, Don Mariano Echevarria y Veitia, who paid especial attention to the poetic fragments he had received, says frankly: "The fact is, that as to the songs I have not found a person who can fully translate them, because there are many words in them whose signification is absolutely unknown to-day, and moreover which do not appear in the vocabularies of Molina or others."[38]

The Abbe Clavigero speaks in somewhat more definite terms of the poetic forms and licenses of the language. He notes that in the fragments of the ancient verses which had been preserved until his day there were inserted between the significant words certain interjections and meaningless syllables, apparently to fill out the metre. Nevertheless, he considered the language of the chants, "pure, pleasant, brilliant, figurative and replete with allusions to the more pleasing objects in nature, as flowers, trees, brooks, etc."[39] It is quite evident from the above extracts that in the translation of the ancient songs in the present volume we must be prepared for serious difficulties, the more so as the Nahuatl language, in the opinion of some who are the best acquainted with it, lends itself with peculiar facility to ambiguities of expression and obscure figures of speech.[40] Students of American ethnology are familiar with the fact that in nearly all tribes the language of the sacred songs differs materially from that in daily life.

Of the older grammarians, Father Carochi alone has left us actual specimens of the ancient poetic dialect, and his observations are regretably brief. They occur in his chapter on the composition of nouns and read as follows:[41]—

"The ancient Indians were chary in forming compounds of more than two words, while those of to-day exceed this number, especially if they speak of sacred things; although in their poetic dialect the ancients were also extravagant in this respect, as the following examples show:—

1. Tlāuhquechōllaztalēhualto tōnatoc.

1. It is gleaming red like the tlauhquechol bird.

2. Ayauhcocamālōtōnamēyotimani.

2. And it glows like the rainbow.

3. Xiuhcoyolizitzilica in teōcuitlahuēhuētl.

3. The silver drum sounds like bells of turquoise.

4. Xiuhtlapallacuilōlāmoxtli manca.

4. There was a book of annals written and painted in colors.

5. Nic chālchiuhcozcameca quenmach totoma in nocuic.

5. I see my song unfolding in a thousand directions, like a string of precious stones."

From the specimens presented in this volume and from the above extracts, I would assign the following peculiarities to the poetic dialect of the Nahuatl:—

I. Extreme frequency and richness of metaphor. Birds, flowers, precious stones and brilliant objects are constantly introduced in a figurative sense, often to the point of obscuring the meaning of the sentence.

II. Words are compounded to a much greater extent than in ordinary prose writing.

III. Both words and grammatical forms unknown to the tongue of daily life occur. These may be archaic, or manufactured capriciously by the poet.

IV. Vowels are inordinately lengthened and syllables reduplicated, either for the purpose of emphasis or of meter.

V. Meaningless interjections are inserted for metrical effect, while others are thrown in and repeated in order to express emotion.

VI. The rhetorical figure known as aposiopesis, where a sentence is left unfinished and in an interjectional condition, in consequence of some emotion of the mind, is not rare and adds to the obscurity of the wording.

Sec. 8. THE PRESERVATION OF THE ANCIENT SONGS.

In a passage already quoted,[42] Sahagun imparts the interesting information that the more important songs were written down by the Nahuas in their books, and from these taught to the youth in the schools. A certain branch of the Mexican hieroglyphic writing was largely phonetic, constructed on that method to which I have applied the adjective ikonomatic, and by which it was quite possible to preserve the sound as well as the sense of sentences and verses.[43] Such attention could have been bestowed only on the sacred, royal, or legendary chants, while the compositions of ordinary poets would only be disseminated by oral teaching.

By one or both of these methods there was a large body of poetic chants the property of the Nahuatl-speaking tribes, when they were subjugated by the Europeans. Among the intelligent missionaries who devoted their lives to mastering the language and translating into it the doctrines of Christianity, there were a few who felt sufficient interest in these chants to write some of them down in the original tongue. Conspicuous among these was the laborious Bernardino de Sahagun, whose works are our most valued sources of information on all that concerns the life of the ancient Nahuas. He collected a number of their sacred hymns, translated them into Spanish, and inserted them into the Appendix to the Second Book of his History of New Spain; but this portion of his work was destroyed by order of the Inquisition, as a note in the original MS. expressly states.[44]

A certain number, however, were preserved in the original tongue, and, as already noted, we find the able grammarian Horatio Carochi, who published his Grammar of the Nahuatl in 1645, quoting lines from some as furnishing examples of the genuine ancient forms of word-building. He could not, therefore, have doubted their antiquity and authenticity.

A number of these must have come to the knowledge and were probably in the possession of the eminent mathematician and antiquary Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora, who lived in the latter half of the same century (died 1700). It was avowedly upon the information which he thought he gleaned from these ancient chants that he constructed his historical theory of the missionary labors of St. Thomas in Mexico in the first century of our era. The title of the work he wrote upon this notion was as follows:—

Fenix del Occidente San Thomas Apostol, hallado con el nombre de Quetzalcoatl entre las cenizas de antiguas tradiciones, conservadas en piedras, en Teoamoxtles Tultecas, y en cantares Teochichimecas y Mexicanos."

For many years this curious work, which was never printed, was supposed to be lost; but the original MS. is extant, in the possession of the distinguished antiquary Don Alfredo Chavero, of the City of Mexico.[45] Unfortunately, however, the author did not insert in his work any song in the native language nor a literal translation of any, as I am informed by Senor Chavero, who has kindly examined the work carefully at my request, with this inquiry in view.

Half a century later, when Boturini was collecting his material, he found but very few of the old poems. In the catalogue of his MSS. he mentions (XIX, 1) some fragments of ancient songs, badly written, on European paper, but he does not say whether in the original or translated. The same doubt might rest on the two songs of Nezahualcoyotl named in his Catalogue (V, 2). He does not specifically state that they are in the original. The song of Moquihuix, King of Tlatilulco, in which he celebrated his victory over the Cuextla, which Boturini states in his text (p. 91) as in his possession, is not mentioned at all in his Catalogue, and it is uncertain whether his copy was in Nahuatl.

His literary friend, however, Don Mariano Echevarria y Veitia, removes the uncertainty about the two songs of Nezahualcoyotl, as he informs us that they were in the original tongue, and adds that he had inserted them in his History without translation.[46] I have examined the manuscript of his work, now in the Lenox Library, New York City, but it does not contain these texts, and evidently the copy used by Bustamente did not.[47]

Boturini included the translations of the two odes of Nezahualcoyotl in a work on the Virgin of Guadelupe, only a fragment of which has been preserved. One of the chapters in this Latin Essay is entitled De Indorum Poetarum Canticis sive Prosodiis, in which he introduces Ixtlilxochitl's translation and also a song in the original Nahuatl, but the latter is doubtless of late date and unimportant as a really native production.[48]

The fragments of Boturini's library collected by M. Aubin, of Paris, contain a number of the original ancient songs of the highest importance, which make us regret the more that this collection has been up to the present inaccessible to students. In his description of these relics published in 1851, M. Aubin refers to the Historical Annals of the Mexican Nation (Sec. VIII, 10, of Boturini's Catalogue) as containing "historical songs in a dialect so difficult that I have not been able to translate them entirely," and adds that similar songs are preserved in others of the ancient annals in his hands.[49]

Sec. 9. THE LX SONGS OF THE KING NEZAHUALCOYOTL.

The most distinguished figure among the Nahuatl poets was Nezahualcoyotl, ruler of Tezcuco. His death took place in 1472, at the age of eighty years. His father, Ixtlilxochitl, had been deprived of his possessions and put to death by Tezozomoc, King of the Tepanecas, and until the death of the latter at an advanced age in 1427, Nezahualcoyotl could make but vain efforts to restore the power of his family. Much of the time he was in extreme want, and for this reason, and for his savage persistence in the struggle, he acquired the name "the fasting or hungry wolf"— nezahualcoyotl. Another of his names was Acolmiztli, usually translated "arm of the lion," from aculli, shoulder, and miztli, lion.

A third was Yoyontzin, which is equivalent to cevetor nobilis, from yoyoma (cevere, i.e., femora movere in re venered); it is to be understood figuratively as indicating the height of the masculine forces.

When his power became assured, he proved himself a liberal and enlightened patron of the arts and industries. The poetry and music of his native land attracted him the more as he felt within himself the moving god, firing his imagination with poetic vision, the Deus in nobis, calescimus, agitant'illo. Not only did he diligently seek out and royally entertain skilled bards, but he himself had the credit of composing sixty chants, and it appears that after the Conquest there were that many written down in Roman characters and attributed to him. We need not inquire too closely whether they were strictly his own composition. Perhaps they were framed on themes which he furnished, or were selected by him from those sung at his court by various bards. The history of the works by royal authors everywhere must not be too minutely scanned if we wish to leave them their reputation for originality.

He was of a philosophic as well as a poetic temperament, and reflected deeply on the problems of life and nature. Following the inherent tendency of the enlightened intellect to seek unity in diversity, the One in the Many, he reached the conclusion to which so many thinkers in all ages and of all races have been driven, that underlying all phenomena is one primal and adequate Cause, the Essence of all Existence. This conclusion he expressed in a philosophic apothegm which was preserved by his disciples, in these words:—

Ipan in chicunauitlamanpan meztica in tloque nahuaque palne nohuani teyocoyani icel teotl oquiyocox in ixquex quexquex in ittoni ihuan amo ittoni.

"In the ninth series is the Cause of All, of us and of all created things, the one only God who created all things both visible and invisible."[50]

To perpetuate the memory of this philosophic deduction he caused to be constructed at Tezcuco a stone tower nine stories in height, the ruins of which were visible long after the Spanish occupation. To this tower he gave the name Chililitli, a term of uncertain meaning, but which we find was applied in Tenochtitlan to a building sacred to the Nine Winds.[51] To explain the introduction of this number, I should add that a certain school of Nahuatl priests taught that the heaven above and the earth below were each divided into nine concentric arcs, each leading farther and farther away from the conditions of the present life. Hence, there were nine heavens, abodes of the gods, and nine lower regions, abodes of the souls of the dead. Another school taught that there were not nine but thirteen of these stages.

The sixty poems by Nezahualcoyotl are mentioned by various writers as in existence after the Conquest, reduced to writing in the original tongue, and of several of them we have translations or abstracts.[52] Of four the translations claim to be complete, and were published entire for the first time in the original Spanish by Lord Kingsborough in the ninth volume of his great work on the Antiquities of Mexico. Since then they have received various renderings in prose and verse into different languages at the hands of modern writers.

I shall give a literal prose translation from the Spanish, numbering the poems and their verses, for convenience of reference, in the order in which they appear in the pages of Lord Kingsborough.

* * * * *

The first is one referred to, and partly translated by Ixtlilxochitl, in his Historia Chichimeca (cap. 47). He calls it a xopancuicatl (see ante, p. 15), and states that it was composed and sung on the occasion of the banquet when the king laid the foundations of his great palace. He gives the first words in the original as follows:—

Tlaxoconcaguican ani Nezahualcoyotzin;

And the translation:—

"Hear that which says the King Nezahualcoyotl."

Restoring the much mutilated original to what I should think was its proper form, the translation should read:—

"Listen attentively to what I, the singer, the noble Nezahualcoyotl, say:"—

I.

1. Listen with attention to the lamentations which I, the King Nezahualcoyotl, make upon my power, speaking with myself, and offering an example to others.

2. O restless and striving king, when the time of thy death shall come, thy subjects shall be destroyed and driven forth; they shall sink into dark oblivion. Then in thy hand shall no longer be the power and the rule, but with the Creator, the All-powerful.

3. He who saw the palaces and court of the old King Tezozomoc, how flourishing and powerful was his sway, may see them now dry and withered; it seemed as if they should last forever, but all that the world offers is illusion and deception, as everything must end and die.

4. Sad and strange it is to see and reflect on the prosperity and power of the old and dying King Tezozomoc; watered with ambition and avarice, he grew like a willow tree rising above the grass and flowers of spring, rejoicing for a long time, until at length, withered and decayed, the storm wind of death tore him from his roots, and dashed him in fragments to the ground. The same fate befell the ancient King Colzatzli, so that no memory was left of him, nor of his lineage.

5. In these lamentations and in this sad song, I now call to memory and offer as an example that which takes place in the spring, and the end which overtook King Tezozomoc; and who, seeing this, can refrain from tears and wailing, that these various flowers and rich delights are bouquets that pass from hand to hand and all wither and end even in the present life!

6. Ye sons of kings and mighty lords, ponder well and think upon that which I tell you in these my lamentations, of what takes place in spring and of the end which overtook King Tezozomoc; and who, seeing this, can refrain from tears and wailing that these various flowers and rich delights are bouquets that pass from hand to hand and all wither and end even in the present life!

7. Let the birds now enjoy, with melodious voices, the abundance of the house of the flowery spring, and the butterflies sip the nectar of its flowers.

* * * * *

The second song is preserved in a Spanish metrical translation only, but which from internal evidence I should judge to be quite literal. The words of the poem do not represent it as a composition by the royal poet, but one which was sung before him, and addressed to him. It admonishes him to rejoice in the present moment, as the uncertainties of life and fate must at some time, perhaps very soon, deprive him of their enjoyment.

II.

1. I wish to sing for a moment, since time and occasion are propitious; I hope to be permitted, as my intention merits it, and I begin my song, though it were better called a lamentation.

2. And thou, beloved companion, enjoy the beauty of these flowers, rejoice with me, cast out fears, for if pleasure ends with life, so also does pain.

3. I, singing, will touch the sonorous instrument, and thou, rejoicing in the flowers, dance and give pleasure to God the powerful. Let us be happy in the present, for life is transitory.

4. Thou hast placed thy noble court in Acolhuacan, thine are its lintels, thou hast decked them, and one may well believe that with such grandeur thy state shall increase and grow.

5. O prudent Yoyontzin, famous king and peerless monarch, rejoice in the present, be happy in the springtime, for a day shall come in which thou shall vainly seek these joys.

6. Then thy destiny shall snatch the sceptre from thy hand, thy moon shall wane, no longer wilt thou be strong and proud, then thy servants shall be destitute of all things.

7. In this sad event, the nobles of thy line, the provinces of might, children of noble parents, lacking thee as their lord, shall taste the bitterness of poverty.

8. They shall call to mind how great was thy pomp, thy triumphs and victories, and bewailing the glory and majesty of the past, their tears will flow like seas.

9. These thy descendants who serve thy plume and crown, when thou art gone, will forsake Culhuacan, and as exiles will increase their woes.

10. Little will fame have to tell of this wondrous majesty, worthy of a thousand heralds; the nations will only remember how wisely governed the three chieftains who held the power,

11. At Mexico, Montezuma the famous and valorous, at Culhuacan the fortunate Nezahualcoyotl, and at the stronghold of Acatlapan, Totoquilhuatli.

12. I fear no oblivion for thy just deeds, standing as thou dost in thy place appointed by the Supreme Lord of All, who governs all things.

13. Therefore, O Nezahualcoyotl, rejoice in what the present offers, crown thyself with flowers from thy gardens, hear my song and music which aim to please thee.

14. The pleasures and riches of this life are but loaned, their substance is vain, their appearance illusory; and so true is this that I ask thee for an answer to these questions:

15. What has become of Cihuapan? Of the brave Quantzintecomatzin? Of Conahuatzin? What of all these people? Perhaps these very words have already passed into another life.

16. Would that we who are now united by the ties of love and friendship could foresee the sharp edge of death, for nothing is certain, and the future ever brings changes.

* * * * *

The third is a "spring song" in which the distinguished warriors of the king are compared to precious stones. Such jewels were believed by the Nahuas to possess certain mysterious powers as charms and amulets, a belief, it is needless to say, found among almost all nations. In verse 18 there is a reference to the superstition that at dawn, when these jewels are exposed to the first rays of the sun, they emit a fine vapor which wafts abroad their subtle potency. The poem is in Spanish verse, and the original is said to have been written down by Don Fernando de Avila, governor of Tlalmanalco, from the mouth of Don Juan de Aguilar, governor of Cultepec, a direct descendant of Nezahualcoyotl.

III.

1. The flowery spring has its house, its court, its palace, adorned with riches, with goods in abundance.

2. With discreet art they are arranged and placed, rich feathers, precious stones, surpassing in luster the sun.

3. There is the valued carbuncle, which from its beauteous center darts forth rays which are the lights of knowledge.

4. There is the prized diamond, sign of strength, shooting forth its brilliant gleams.

5. Here one sees the translucent emerald suggesting the hope of the rewards of merit.

6. Next follows the topaz, equaling the emerald, for the reward it promises is a heavenly dwelling.

7. The amethyst, signifying the cares which a king has for his subjects, and moderation in desires.

8. These are what kings, princes and monarchs delight to place upon their breasts and crowns.

9. All these stones with their varied and singular virtues, adorn Thy house and court, O Father, O Infinite God!

10. These stones which I the King Nezahualcoyotl have succeeded in uniting in loving liens,

11. Are the famous princes, the one called Axaxacatzin, the other Chimalpopoca, and Xicomatzintlamata.

12. To-day, somewhat rejoiced by the joy and words of these, and of the other lords who were with them,

13. I feel, when alone, that my soul is pleased but for a brief time, and that all pleasure soon passes.

14. The presence of these daring eagles pleases me, of these lions and tigers who affright the world,

15. These who by their valor win everlasting renown, whose name and whose deeds fame will perpetuate.

16. Only to-day am I glad and look upon these rich and varied stones, the glory of my bloody battles.

17. To-day, noble princes, protectors of the realm, my will is to entertain you and to praise you.

18. It seems to me that ye answer from your souls, like the fine vapor arising from precious stones,—

19. "O King Nezahualcoyotl, O royal Montezuma, your subjects sustain themselves with your soft dews.

20. "But at last a day shall come which will cut away this power, and all these will be left wretched orphans.

21. "Rejoice, mighty King, in this lofty power which the King of Heaven has granted you, rejoice and be glad.

22. "In the life of this world there is no beginning anew, therefore rejoice, for all good ends.

23. "The future promises endless changes, griefs that your subjects will have to undergo.

24. "Ye see before you the instruments decked with wreaths of odorous flowers; rejoice in their fragrance.

25. "To-day there are peace, and goodfellowship; therefore let all join hands and rejoice in the dances,

26. "So that for a little while princes and kings and the nobles may have pleasure in these precious stones,

27. "Which through his goodness the will of the King Nezahualcoyotl has set forth for you, inviting you to-day to his house."

* * * * *

The fourth song has been preserved in an Otomi translation by the Mexican antiquary Granados y Galvez[53] and in an abstract by Torquemada.[54] The latter gives the first words as follows:—

Xochitl mamani in huehuetitlan:

Which he translates:—

"There are fresh and fragrant flowers among the groves."

It is said to have been composed at the time the king dedicated his palace.

IV.

1. The fleeting pomps of the world are like the green willow trees, which, aspiring to permanence, are consumed by a fire, fall before the axe, are upturned by the wind, or are scarred and saddened by age.

2. The grandeurs of life are like the flowers in color and in fate; the beauty of these remains so long as their chaste buds gather and store the rich pearls of the dawn and saving it, drop it in liquid dew; but scarcely has the Cause of All directed upon them the full rays of the sun, when their beauty and glory fail, and the brilliant gay colors which decked forth their pride wither and fade.

3. The delicious realms of flowers count their dynasties by short periods; those which in the morning revel proudly in beauty and strength, by evening weep for the sad destruction of their thrones, and for the mishaps which drive them to loss, to poverty, to death and to the grave. All things of earth have an end, and in the midst of the most joyous lives, the breath falters, they fall, they sink into the ground.

4. All the earth is a grave, and nought escapes it; nothing is so perfect that it does not fall and disappear. The rivers, brooks, fountains and waters flow on, and never return to their joyous beginnings; they hasten on to the vast realms of Tlaloc, and the wider they spread between their marges the more rapidly do they mould their own sepulchral urns. That which was yesterday is not to-day; and let not that which is to-day trust to live to-morrow.

5. The caverns of earth are filled with pestilential dust which once was the bones, the flesh, the bodies of great ones who sate upon thrones, deciding causes, ruling assemblies, governing armies, conquering provinces, possessing treasures, tearing down temples, flattering themselves with pride, majesty, fortune, praise and dominion. These glories have passed like the dark smoke thrown out by the fires of Popocatepetl, leaving no monuments but the rude skins on which they are written.

6. Ha! ha! Were I to introduce you into the obscure bowels of this temple, and were to ask you which of these bones were those of the powerful Achalchiuhtlanextin, first chief of the ancient Toltecs; of Necaxecmitl, devout worshiper of the gods; if I inquire where is the peerless beauty of the glorious empress Xiuhtzal, where the peaceable Topiltzin, last monarch of the hapless land of Tulan; if I ask you where are the sacred ashes of our first father Xolotl; those of the bounteous Nopal; those of the generous Tlotzin; or even the still warm cinders of my glorious and immortal, though unhappy and luckless father Ixtlilxochitl; if I continued thus questioning about all our august ancestors, what would you reply? The same that I reply—I know not, I know not; for first and last are confounded in the common clay. What was their fate shall be ours, and of all who follow us.

7. Unconquered princes, warlike chieftains, let us seek, let us sigh for the heaven, for there all is eternal, and nothing is corruptible. The darkness of the sepulchre is but the strengthening couch for the glorious sun, and the obscurity of the night but serves to reveal the brilliancy of the stars. No one has power to alter these heavenly lights, for they serve to display the greatness of their Creator, and as our eyes see them now, so saw them our earliest ancestors, and so shall see them our latest posterity.

* * * * *

It will be seen that the philosophy of these songs is mostly of the Epicurean and carpe diem order. The certainty of death and the mutability of fortune, observations which press themselves upon the mind of man everywhere, are their principal staples, and cast over them a hue of melancholy, relieved by exhortations to enjoy to the utmost what the present moment offers of pleasure and sensual gratification. Here and there a gleam of a higher philosophy lights the sombre reflections of the bard; his thoughts turn toward the infinite Creator of this universe, and he dimly apprehends that by making Him the subject of his contemplation, there is boundless consolation even in this mortal life.

Both these leading motifs recur over and over again in the songs printed in the original in the present volume, and this similarity is a common token of the authenticity of the book.

Sec. 10. THE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT COLLECTION.

The most recent Mexican writers formally deny that any ancient Mexican poetry is now extant. Thus the eminent antiquary, Don Alfredo Chavero, in his elaborate work, Mexico a traves de los Siglos, says, "the truth is, we know no specimens of the ancient poetry, and those, whether manuscript or printed, which claim to be such, date from after the Conquest."[55] In a similar strain the grammarian Diario Julio Caballero, writes: "There has never come into our hands a single poetic composition in this language. It is said that the great King Nezahualcoyotl was a poet and composed various songs; however that may be, the fact is that we have never seen any such compositions, nor met any person who has seen them."[56]

It is important, therefore, to state the exact provenance of the specimens printed in this volume, many of which I consider to have been composed previous to the Conquest, and written down shortly after the Nahuatl language had been reduced to the Spanish alphabet.

All of them are from a MS. volume in the library of the University of Mexico, entitled Cantares de los Mexicanos y otros opusculos, composed of various pieces in different handwritings, which, from their appearance and the character of the letter, were attributed by the eminent antiquary Don Jose F. Ramirez, to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The copy I have used is that made by the late Abbe Brasseur (de Bourbourg). It does not appear to be complete, but my efforts to have it collated with the original have not been successful. Another copy was taken by the late well-known Mexican scholar Faustino Chimalpopoca, which was in the possession of Senor Ramirez and sold at the vendue of his books in 1880. It is No. 511 of the catalogue.

The final decision of the age of the poems must come from a careful scrutiny of the internal evidence, especially the thoughts they contain and the language in which they are expressed. In applying these tests, it should be remembered that a song may be almost wholly ancient, that is, composed anterior to the Conquest, and yet display a few later allusions introduced by the person who preserved it in writing, so as to remove from it the flavor of heathenism. Some probable instances of this kind will be pointed out in the Notes.

The songs are evidently from different sources and of different epochs. There are two notes inserted in the MS. which throw some light on the origin of a few of the poems. The first is in connection with No. XII. In my copy of the MS, the title of this song is written twice, and between the two the following memorandum appears in Spanish:

"Ancient songs of the native Otomis, which they were accustomed to sing at their festivals and marriages, translated into the Mexican language, the play and the spirit of the song and its figures of speech being always retained; as Your Reverence will understand, they displayed considerable style and beauty, better than I can express with my slight talent; and may Your Reverence at your convenience approve and be entertained by them, as a skilled master of the tongue, as Your Reverence is."

From its position and from the titles following, this note appears to apply only to No. XII.

The second note is prefixed to No. XIV, which has no title. It is in Nahuatl, and reads as follows:—

* * * * *

-+-

I H S

Nican ompehua in cuicatl motenehua melahuac Huexotzincayotl ic moquichitoya in tlatoque Huexotzinca mani mecatca; yexcan inic tlatlamantitica, teuccuicatl ahnoco quauhcuicatl, xochicuicatl, icnocuicatl. Auh inic motzotzona huehuetl cencamatl mocauhtiuh, auh in occencamatl ipan huetzi yetetl ti; auh in huel ic ompehua centetl ti; auh inic mocuepa quiniquac iticpa huehuetzi y huehuetl, zan mocemana in maitl; auh quiniquac iyeinepantla occeppa itenco hualcholoa in huehuetl; tel yehuatl itech mottaz, ynima ynaquin cuicani quimati iniuh motzotzona; auh yancuican yenoceppa inin cuicatl ychan D. Diego de Leon, Governador Azcapotzalco; yehuatl oquitzotzon in D. Frco Placido ypan xihuitl 1551, ypan in ezcalilitzin tl Jesu Christo.

* * * * *

This may be freely translated as follows:—

* * * * *

"Here begins a song called a plain song of Huexotzinco as it was recited by the lords of Huexotzinco. These songs are divided into three classes, the songs of the nobles or of the eagles, the flower songs, and the songs of destitution. (Directions follow for beating the drum in unison with the voices.) This song was sung at the house of Don Diego de Leon, Governor of Azcapotzalco; he who beat the drum was Don Francisco Placido; in the year of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ 1551."

* * * * *

This assigns beyond doubt the song in question to the first half of the sixteenth century, and we may therefore take its phraseology as a type of the Nahuatl poetry shortly after the Conquest. It is also stated to be a native composition, and from its contents, it was clearly composed by one of the converts to the Christian faith.



ANCIENT NAHUATL POEMS.

I.

CUICAPEUHCAYOTL.

I.

SONG AT THE BEGINNING.

1. Ninoyolnonotza, campa nicuiz yectli, ahuiaca xochitl:—Ac nitlatlaniz? Manozo yehuatl nictlatlani in quetzal huitzitziltin, in chalchiuh huitzitzicatzin; manozo ye nictlatlani in zaquan papalotl; ca yehuantin in machiz, ommati, campa cueponi in yectli ahuiac xochitl, tla nitlahuihuiltequi in nican acxoyatzinitzcanquauhtla, manoze nitlahuihuiltequi in tlauhquecholxochiquauhtla; oncan huihuitolihui ahuach tonameyotoc in oncan mocehcemelquixtia; azo oncan niquimittaz intla onechittitique; nocuexanco nictemaz ic niquintlapaloz in tepilhuan, ic niquimellelquixtiz in teteuctin.

1. I am wondering where I may gather some pretty, sweet flowers. Whom shall I ask? Suppose that I ask the brilliant humming-bird, the emerald trembler; suppose that I ask the yellow butterfly; they will tell me, they know, where bloom the pretty, sweet flowers, whether I may gather them here in the laurel woods where dwell the tzinitzcan birds, or whether I may gather them in the flowery forests where the tlauquechol lives. There they may be plucked sparkling with dew, there they come forth in perfection. Perhaps there I shall see them if they have appeared; I shall place them in the folds of my garment, and with them I shall greet the children, I shall make glad the nobles.

2. Tlacazo nican nemi, ye nicaqui in ixochicuicatzin yuhqui tepetl quinnananquilia; tlacazo itlan in meyaquetzalatl, xiuhtotoameyalli, oncan mocuica, momotla, mocuica; nananquilia in centzontlatolli; azo quinnananquilia in coyoltototl, ayacachicahuacatimani, in nepapan tlazocuicani totome. Oncan quiyectenehua in tlalticpaque hueltetozcatemique.

2. Truly as I walk along I hear the rocks as it were replying to the sweet songs of the flowers; truly the glittering, chattering water answers, the bird-green fountain, there it sings, it dashes forth, it sings again; the mockingbird answers; perhaps the coyol bird answers, and many sweet singing birds scatter their songs around like music. They bless the earth pouring out their sweet voices.

3. Nic itoaya, nitlaocoltzatzia; ma namechellelti y tlazohuane, niman cactimotlalique, niman hualtato in quetzal huitzitziltin. Aquin tictemohua, cuicanitzine? Niman niquinnanquilia niquimilhuia: Campa catqui in yectli, ahuiac xochitl ic niquimellelquixtiz in amohuampotzitzinhuan? Niman onechicacahuatzque ca nican tlatimitzittitili ticuicani azo nelli ic tiquimellelquixtiz in toquichpohuan in teteuctin.

3. I said, I cried aloud, may I not cause you pain ye beloved ones, who are seated to listen; may the brilliant humming-birds come soon. Whom do we seek, O noble poet? I ask, I say: Where are the pretty, fragrant flowers with which I may make glad you my noble compeers? Soon they will sing to me, "Here we will make thee to see, thou singer, truly wherewith thou shalt make glad the nobles, thy companions."

4. Tepeitic tonacatlalpa, xochitlalpa nechcalaquiqueo oncan on ahuachtotonameyotimani, oncan niquittacaya in nepapan tlazoahuiac xochitl, tlazohuelic xochitl ahuach quequentoc, ayauhcozamalotonameyotimani, oncan nechilhuia, xixochitetequi, in catlehuatl toconnequiz, ma mellelquiza in ticuicani, tiquinmacataciz in tocnihuan in teteuctin in quellelquixtizque in tlalticpaque.

4. They led me within a valley to a fertile spot, a flowery spot, where the dew spread out in glittering splendor, where I saw various lovely fragrant flowers, lovely odorous flowers, clothed with the dew, scattered around in rainbow glory, there they said to me, "Pluck the flowers, whichever thou wishest, mayest thou the singer be glad, and give them to thy friends, to the nobles, that they may rejoice on the earth."

5. Auh nicnocuecuexantia in nepapan ahuiacxochitl, in huel teyolquima, in huel tetlamachti, nic itoaya manozo aca tohuanti hual calaquini, ma cenca miec in ticmamani; auh ca tel ye onimatico nitlanonotztahciz imixpan in tocnihuan nican mochipa tiqualtetequizque in tlazo nepapan ahuiac xochitl ihuan ticuiquihui in nepapan yectliyancuicatl ic tiquimellelquixtizque in tocnihuan in tlalticpactlaca in tepilhuan quauhtliya ocelotl.

5. So I gathered in the folds of my garment the various fragrant flowers, delicate scented, delicious, and I said, may some of our people enter here, may very many of us be here; and I thought I should go forth to announce to our friends that here all of us should rejoice in the different lovely, odorous flowers, and that we should cull the various sweet songs with which we might rejoice our friends here on earth, and the nobles in their grandeur and dignity.

6. Ca moch nicuitoya in nicuicani ic niquimicpac xochiti in tepilhuan inic niquimapan in can in mac niquinten; niman niquehuaya yectli yacuicatl ic netimalolo in tepilhuan ixpan in tloque in nahuaque, auh in atley y maceuallo.

6. So I the singer gathered all the flowers to place them upon the nobles, to clothe them and put them in their hands; and soon I lifted my voice in a worthy song glorifying the nobles before the face of the Cause of All, where there is no servitude.

7. Can quicuiz? Can quitlaz in huelic xochitl? Auh cuix nohuan aciz aya in xochitlalpan, in tonacatlalpan, in atley y macehuallo in nentlamati? Intla y tlacohua in tlalticpac ca can quitemacehualtica in tloque in nahuaque, in tlalticpac; ye nican ic chocan noyollo noconilnamiquia in ompa onitlachiato y xochitlalpana nicuicani.

7. Where shall one pluck them? Where gather the sweet flowers? And how shall I attain that flowery land, that fertile land, where there is no servitude, nor affliction? If one purchases it here on earth, it is only through submission to the Cause of All; here on earth grief fills my soul as I recall where I the singer saw the flowery spot.

8. Auh nic itoaya tlacazo amo qualcan in tlalticpac ye nican, tlacazo occecni in huilohuayan, in oncan ca in netlamachtilli; tlezannen in tlalticpac? tlacazo occecni yoliliz ximoayan, ma ompa niauh, ma ompa inhuan noncuicati in nepapan tlazototome, ma ompa nicnotlamachti yectliya xochitl ahuiaca xochitl, in teyolquima, in zan tepacca, teahuiaca yhuintia, in zan tepacca, ahuiaca yhuintia.

8. And I said, truly there is no good spot here on earth, truly in some other bourne there is gladness; For what good is this earth? Truly there is another life in the hereafter. There may I go, there the sweet birds sing, there may I learn to know those good flowers, those sweet flowers, those delicious ones, which alone pleasurably, sweetly intoxicate, which alone pleasurably, sweetly intoxicate.

II.

XOPANCUICATL, OTONCUICATL, TLAMELAUHCAYOTL.

A SPRING SONG, AN OTOMI SONG, A PLAIN SONG.

1. Onihualcalac nicuicani nepapan xochitlalpan, huel teellelquixtican, tetlamachtican, oncan ahuach tonameyoquiauhtimani, oncan cuicuica in nepapan tlazototome, on cuicatlaza in coyoltototl cahuantimani inin tozquitzin in quellelquixtia in tloque in nahuaque yehuan Dios, ohuaya, ohuaya.

1. I, the singer, have entered many flower gardens, places of pleasaunce, favored spots, where the dew spread out its glittering surface, where sang various lovely birds, where the coyol birds let fall their song, and spreading far around, their voices rejoiced the Cause of All, He who is God, ohuaya! ohuaya!

2. Oncan nicaqui in cuicanelhuayotl in nicuicani, tlacazo amo tlalticpac in peuh yectli yancuicatl, tlacazo ompa in ilhuicatl itic hual caquizti in conehua in tlazocoyoltototl in quimehuilia in nepapan teoquecholme zacuantototl, oncan tlacazo quiyectenehua in tloque in nahuaque, ohuaya, ohuaya.

2. It is there that I the singer hear the very essence of song; certainly not on earth has true poesy its birth; certainly it is within the heavens that one hears the lovely coyol bird lift its voice, that the various quechol and zacuan birds speak together, there they certainly praise the Cause of All, ohuaya! ohuaya!

3. Niyolpoxahua in nicaquia ni cuicani, acoquiza in notlalnamiquilizo quin pepetlatiquiza in ilhuicame, nelcicihuiliz ehecayotiuh in iquinalquixtia in ompa ontlatenehua in zacuanhuitzitzil in ilhuicatl itic, ohuaya, ohuaya.

3. I, the singer, labor in spirit with what I heard, that it may lift up my memory, that it may go forth to those shining heavens, that my sighs may be borne on the wind and be permitted to enter where the yellow humming bird chants its praises in the heavens, ohuaya! ohuaya!

4. Auh nohuiampa nictlachialtia in noyollo auh tlacazo nelli in amo ixquich quehua in tlazotototl, tlacazo ye oc tlapanahuia in ilhuicatl itic y yollo in tloque in nahuaque mochiuhtica, ca intlacamo teuhyotiuh in notlalnamiquiliz azo huelquinalquixtica ittazo in tlamahuizolli in ilhuicac ic papaqui in ilhuicac tlazototome ixpan in tloque nahuaque, ohuaya, ohuaya.

4. And as in my thoughts I gaze around, truly no such sweet bird lifts its voice, truly the things made for the heavens by the Cause of All surpass all others, and unless my memory tends to things divine scarcely will it be possible to penetrate these and witness the wondrous sights in heaven, which rejoice the sweet heavenly birds before the face of the Cause of All.

5. Quenin ah nichocaz in tlalticpac? ye nican onca nemoaya ninoztlacahuia, nicitoa aco zan ye ixquich in nican in tlalticpac ontlamian toyolia, macuele ehuatl in tloque in nahuaque, ma ompa inhuan nimitznocuicatili in ilhuicac mochanecahuan ca noyollo ehua ompa nontlachia in monahuac in motloc tipalnemohua, ohuaya, ohuaya.

5. How much, alas, shall I weep on earth? Truly I have lived here in vain illusion; I say that whatever is here on earth must end with our lives. May I be permitted to sing to thee, the Cause of All, there in the heaven, a dweller in thy mansion, there may my soul lift its voice and be seen with Thee and near Thee, Thou by whom we live, ohuaya! ohuaya!

6. Ma xicaquin nocuic in tinocniuh xochihuehuetl inic tzotzonaya ilhuicacuicatl in nicchuaya, ic niquimellelquixtia in teteucti, xochicueponi in noyollo izqui xochitl nictzetzelohuaya ic malitiuh in no cuicatzin ixpan in tloque in nahuaque, ohuaya, ohuaya.

6. List to my song, thou my friend, and to the flower-decked drum which kept time to the heavenly song which I sang, that I might make glad the nobles, raining down before them the flowery thoughts of my heart as though they were flowers, that my noble song might grow in glory before the face of the Cause of All, ohuaya! ohuaya!

III.

OCCE AL MISMO TONO TLAMELAUHCAYOTL.

ANOTHER PLAIN SONG, TO THE SAME TUNE.

1. Xochicalco nihualcalaquia in nicuicani, oncan icac in chalchiuhuehuetl, oncan chialon ipalnemohuani in teteuctin xochitl tzetzeliuhtimani, tolquatectitla, xoyacaltitlan, onahuiaxtimani in xochicopal tlenamactli huel teyolquima, cahuia ca ihuintia in toyollo ixpan in tloque in nahuaque.

1. I, the singer, entered into the house strewn with flowers, where stood upright the emerald drum, where awaiting the Giver of Life the nobles strewed flowers around, the place where the head is bowed for lustration, the house of corrupt odors, where the burning fragrant incense spreads and penetrates, intoxicating our souls in the presence of the Cause of All.

2. Ic motoma tocuic xochiahuia ca ihuinti in toyollo? Aoc ticmati inic nepapan xochicuicatl ic ticcecemeltia in tloque nahuaque quen ahtontlaelehuian; tinocniuh ma nohuehuetitlan ximoquetzaya nepapan xochitl ic ximopanaya chalchiuh ocoxochitl mocpac xicmanaya xicehuayan yectli yancuicatl ic melelquixtia in tloque in nahuaque.

2. Where shall we obtain the fragrance which intoxicates our souls? We do not yet know the various flower-songs with which we may rejoice the Cause of All, however desirous we are; thou my friend, would that thou bring to my instrument various flowers, that thou shouldst clothe it in brilliant oco flowers, that thou shouldst offer them, and lift thy voice in a new and worthy song to rejoice the Cause of All.

3. Tleymach tiquilnamiquia can mach in nemian moyollo ic timoyol cecenmanaya ahuicpa tichuica timoyol popoloaya in tlalticpac? Ca mach titlatiuh xihualmocuepaya xiccaquin yectli yancuicatl ximoyolciahuaya xochiaticaya onahuiaxtimani oncan nicehuaya in yectli yancuicatl nicuicani ic nicellelquixtia in tloque in nahuaque.

3. Wherefore should we recall while the soul is in life that our souls must be scattered hither and thither, and that wherever we go we are to be destroyed on earth? Rather let us hide it, turn from it, and listen to some worthy new song; delight thy soul with the pervading fragrance of flowers, as I the singer lift my voice in a new song that I may rejoice the Cause of All.

4. Xihuallachian tinocniuh in oncan icayan xochihuehuetl tonameyo ontotonauhtimani quetzal ecacehuazticaya on xopaleuhtimani in oncan ic chialo ic malhuilo inipetl in icpal in tloque in nahuaque; xic cahuaya in mixtecomatla xihualmocuepaya tohuan, xic ehua in yancuicatl nicuicani ic niquellelquixtia in tloque in tlaneciz inic moyollo caltitlan.

4. Come hither, thou my friend, to where stands the drum, decked with flowers, gleaming with brightness, green with the outspread plumes of the quetzal bird, where are looked for and cared for the seats near the Cause of All; leave the place of night and clouds, turn hither with us, lift thy voice in the new song I sing so that I may rejoice the Cause of All, as the dawn approaches in the house of thy heart.

5. Tlecannen in nicyocoya in nitlaocolcuica inic niquimilnamiqui in tepilhuan, in tlazomaquiztin, in tlazoteoxiuhme, in quetzaltotome, in moteyotico, in motleyotico in tlalticpac? in ocnoma caquizti inin tenyo, inin cahuanca, campa neltiazque? Ca zan titlacatico ca ompa huel tochan in canin ximoayan inocapa in yolihuayan aic tlamian.

5. Of what use is it that I frame my sad songs, that I recall to mind the youths, the beloved children, the precious relatives, the dear friends, famous and celebrated as they were on earth? Who now hears their fame, their deeds? Where can they find them? All of us are but mortal, and our home is there in the Hereafter, where there is life without end.

IV.

MEXICA OTONCUICATL.

AN OTOMI SONG OF THE MEXICANS.

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 xochitzetzelolpa 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.

V.

OTRO MEXICA TLAMELAUHCACUICAYOTL.

ANOTHER PLAIN SONG OF THE MEXICANS.

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 ipalnemohuani.

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 ichano.

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 aca ca 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.

VI.

OTRO CHALCAYOTL, CANTO DE TETLEPAN QUETZANITZIN.

ANOTHER CHALCO-SONG, A POEM OF TETLEPAN QUETZANITZIN.

1. Aua nocnihue ninentlamatia zan ninochoquilia in monahuac aya yehuan Dios, quexquich onmitzicnotlamachtia momacehual cemamanahuac ontonitlanililo in ic tontlahuica tontecemilhuitiltia in tlalticpac.

1. Alas, my friend, I was afflicted, I cried aloud on thy account to God. How much compassion hast thou for thy servant in this world sent here by thee to be thy subject for the space of a day on this earth!

2. Macazo tleon xoconyoyocoya ti noyollo, yehua cuix ic nepohualoyan in oncan nemohua yehua, in atle tlahuelli in antecocolia huel on yecnemiz in tlalticpac.

2. However that may be, mayst thou so dispose my heart, that it may pass through this place of reckoning, without anger, without injury, and live a good life on earth.

3. In quimati noyollo nichoca yehua huel eza ye nelli in titicnihuan, huellenelli nemoa in tlalticpac in tonicniuh tlatzihuiz yehuan Dios.

3. My heart knows how truly I weep for my friend, how truly as it lives on earth it cries aloud for thee, my friend, to God.

4. Xontlachayan huitztlampayan, iquizayan in tonatiuh, ximoyollehuayan oncan manian teoatl tlachinolli, oncan mocuica in teucyotl in tlatocayotl yectliya xochitl in amo zannen mocuia, in quetzallalpilo niaya macquauhtica, chimaltica neicaloloyan in tlalticpac ic momacehuaya in yectliya xochitl in tiquelehuia in ticnequia in tinocniuh in quitemacehualtia in quitenemactia in tloque in nahuaque.

4. Let thy soul awake and turn toward the south, toward the rising of the sun, rouse thy heart that it turn toward the field of battle, there let it win power and fame, the noble flowers which it will not grasp in vain; adorned with a frontlet of quetzal feathers I went forth armed with sword and shield to the battlefield on earth, that I might merit these noble flowers with which we may rejoice as we wish our friends, as the Cause of All may reward and grant to us.

5. Nentiquelehuia in tictemoaya in tinocniuh yectliya xochitl can ticuiz intlacamo ximicaliya, melchiquiuhticaya, mitonalticaya ticmacehuaya in yectliyaxochitla, yaochoquiztli ixayoticaya in quitemacehualtica in tloque in nahuaque.

5. Vainly, O friends, do we desire and seek where we may cull those noble flowers unless we fight with bared breasts, with the sweat of the brow, meriting these noble flowers, in bitter and painful war, for which the Cause of All will give reward.

VII.

OTRO.

ANOTHER.

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.

VIII.

OTRO, QUEUH CE TLATOHUANI IN QUIMILNAMIQUI IN TLATOQUE.

COMPOSED BY A CERTAIN RULER IN MEMORY OF FORMER RULERS.

1. Tlaocolxochi ixayoticaya ic nichuipana in nocuic nicuicani, niquimilnamiqui in tepilhuan, in teintoque, in tlacotitoque in campa in ximohuaya, in oteuctico, in otlatocatico in tlallia icpac, in quetzalhuahuaciuhtoque in chalchiuhteintoque in tepilhuan, in maoc imixpan in maoc oquitlani; in ye itto in tlalticpac iximachoca in tloque in nahuaque.

1. Weeping, I, the singer, weave my song of flowers of sadness; I call to memory the youths, the shards, the fragments, gone to the land of the dead; once noble and powerful here on earth, the youths were dried up like feathers, were split into fragments like an emerald, before the face and in the sight of those who saw them on earth, and with the knowledge of the Cause of All.

2. Y yo ya hue nitlaocolcuicaya in niquimilnamiqui in tepilhuan, ma zan itla ninocuepa, ma niquimonana, ma niquinhualquixti in ompa in ximoayan, ma oc oppa tihua in tlalticpac, ma oc quimahuizoqui in tepilhuan in ticmahuizoa, azo huel yehuantin tlatlazomahuizozquia in ipalnemohualoni, quemmach tomazehual in tlazaniuh ticmatican in ticnopillahueliloque ic choca in noyollo nino tlalnamiquiliz huipana in nicuicani choquiztica tlaocoltica nitlalnamiquia.

2. Alas! alas! I sing in grief as I recall the children. Would that I could turn back again; would that I could grasp their hands once more; would that I could call them forth from the land of the dead; would that we could bring them again on earth, that they might rejoice and we rejoice, and that they might rejoice and delight the Giver of Life; is it possible that we His servants should reject him or should be ungrateful? Thus I weep in my heart as I, the singer, review my memories, recalling things sad and grievous.

3. Manozo zan nicmati in nechcaquizque intla itla yectli cuicatl niquimehuili in ompa ximohuayan, ma ic niquipapacti, ma ic niquimacotlaza inin tonez inin chichinaquiliz in tepilhuan. Cuix on machiaz? Quennel nihualnellaquahua? Aquen manian ompa niquimontocaz? Ano niquin nonotztaciz in ye yuh quin in tlalticpac.

3. Would only that I knew they could hear me, there in the land of the dead, were I to sing some worthy song. Would that I could gladden them, that I could console the suffering and the torment of the children. How can it be learned? Whence can I draw the inspiration? They are not where I may follow them; neither can I reach them with my calling as one here on earth.

IX.

OTRO TLAOCOLCUICA OTOMITL.

AN OTOMI SONG OF SADNESS.

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 tipalnemohuani.

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