A poem attributed to Netzahualcoyotl.
Listen to the Lamentations
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.
Source: “Ancient Nahuatl Poetry” by Daniel G. Brinton
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.