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Nezahualcoyotl, meaning “Coyote in fast” or “Coyote who fasts”) was a philosopher, warrior, architect, poet and ruler (tlatoani) of the city-state of Texcoco, a branch of the triple alliance that was the Aztec Confederacy.  Texcoco has the reputation of being the Athens of the triple alliance, and Nezahualcoyotl its philosopher king.

What follows is from “Ancient Nahuatl Poetry” by Daniel G. Brinton, a brief biography and four of his most famous poems all with a pronounced “carpe diem” tone.

Poetry and Poets

A feature of Aztec culture that is little known today is the centrality of poetry in their lives, as personal entertainment, and perhaps as spoken word poetry in the ritual and celebration of official functions.  This focus and reverence is commented upon by various writers, with the best review perhaps found in Daniel G. Brinton’s, Ancient Nahuatl Poetry (Library of Aboriginal American Literature Number VII).