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A Plain Spring Song

A flower song attributed to Nezahualcoyotl.




Flowers descend to earth, Life Giver sends them, sacred yellow flowers. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Let all be adorned, princes, lords. Life Giver sends them, these wailing piles of sacred flowers, these golden flowers. Ohuaya ohuaya.

What do our hearts want on this earth? Heart pleasure. Life Giver, let us borrow your flowers, these golden flowers, these wailing flowers. No one can enjoy them forever, for we must depart. Ahuaye ohuaya ohuaya.

Though they may be gold, you will hide them, though they may be your jades, your plumes. We only borrow them. No one can enjoy them forever, for we must depart. Ahuaye ohuaya ohuaya.

O friends, to a good place we’ve come to live, come in springtime! In that place a very brief moment! So brief is life!

I, Yoyontzin, say, Here our hearts are glad. Friends, we have come to know each other and each other’s beautiful words. Yet they are also dark. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Yes, I suffer, grieve, I am joyless, inconsolable on Earth. Ohuaya ohuaya.

I am a hawk. My heart longs for Life Giver God’s glory. Here on earth lords are born and they rule through his glory. Ohuaya ohuaya.


Source:  Cantares Mexicanos #82

Nahuatl Version:


Talpan temoc in xochitl tlalpan, quitemohuia yn ipalnemohuani zaniman-Yehua!-yectli ya xochitl zaniman-Yehua!-cozahuic xochitla. Ohuaya ohuaya.

In maic neapanalo o antepilhuan anteteuctin ayahue ychoquiz tlatelolotihuitza-Aya!-ca quitemohui yn ipalnemoani zaniman yehua yectli ya xochitl zaniman yehua cozahuic xochitla. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Ach tleon i quinequi in toyollo in tlalticpacqui huel teyol quima yn ipalnemoa moxochihuaya ma onnetlanehuilo cozahuic xochitla ca ycahuaca xochitl ayac quicentlamittaz ynic timiquizque. Ahuaye ohuaya.

Intlanel teocuitlatl ma xoyatlatiya intla mochalchiuh mocozqui moquetzal zan tictlanehuico ayac quicentlamittaz ynic timiquizque. Ahuaye ohuaya ohuaya.

Yecan tinemico xochipan tinemico. Ach in tocnihuan, oo, ma iuhcan quentetl ma on nemohua. Ohuaya ohuaya.

In ni Yoyo[tzin] ye nican paqui toyollo, tixco timatico yectli totlatol, antocnihuan yca nichico. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Huixahuee ye ninotolinia icnopilotl-Aya!-in anahuiya in ahuellamati, zan nontlatlcoxtinemi in tlalticpac ye nican. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Ca ya nihuizoc. In quinequi in noyollo yn imahuizon Tiox ho, ipalnemohuani ye oqui piltihua y nica mahuiztihua tlalticpacqui in teucyotl in tlatocayotl. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Source:  Cantares Mexicanos #82 (69r). The Cantares Mexicanos is the name given to a manuscript collection of Nahuatl songs or poems recorded in the 16th century. The 91 songs of the Cantares form the largest Nahuatl song collection, containing over half of all known traditional Nahuatl songs. It is currently located in the National Library of Mexico in Mexico City.

Translation: John Curl

Categories: Aztec Aztec Flower Songs Aztec Hymns & Prayers

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As Fray Bernardino de Sahagún observed: the Mexicans “are held to be barbarians and of very little worth; in truth, however, in matters of culture and refinement, they are a step ahead of other nations." We explore the history and legacy of the Nahua and Maya civilizations, both of which challenge our preconceptions.