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Only Flowers are Our Adornment

A flower song attributed to Nezahualcoyotl.


Only flowers are our adornment, only songs turn our suffering to delight on earth. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Will I lose my friends and companions? Already I have gone, I, Yoyontzin, to the house of song of he who makes the world live! Ohuaya ohuaya.

Let your hearts know, O princes, O eagles and jaguars: not forever will we be friends here: only for a very brief moment and then we all go away to His house. Ohuaya ohuaya.

I am sad, I grieve, I, Lord Nezahualcoyotl, when with flowers and songs I remember those princes who went away, Tezozomoc and Cuacuauhtzin. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Do they live there still in the realm of mystery? If only I could follow after the princes! Let me carry our flowers and begin the beautiful songs next to Tezozomoc! Ohuaya ohuaya.

O my prince Tezozomoc: never will your renown have to end: with a song in your honor I come to suffer and cry: you too have gone away to his house! Ohuaya ohuaya.

I come here to feel the sadness, anguish: never more, oh, never more will you come to see us on earth: you too have gone away to his house! Ohuaya ohuaya.

Cantares Mexicanos #40

A note from the translator: The Tezozomoc addressed in this song is surely not the ruler who ordered his father’s death. Tezozomoc was a common name, and the name of a friend and a cousin who died young. On the other hand, the Cuacuauhtzin addressed probably is the same man whose death Nezahualcoyotl caused from love for Azcalxochitzin. Nonetheless, the song seems filled with strange ironies. It must have been composed after 1443, the year of Cuacuauhtzin’s death..

Nahuatl Version:


Zanlo in xochitl tonequimilol, zanio in cuicatl ic huehuetzin telel a in tlalticpac. Ohuaya ohuaya.

In mach noca om polihuiz in cohuayotl, moch noca om polihuiz in icniuhyotl? In ononya yehua ni Yoyontzin. Ohuaye! On cuicatilo in ipalnemoani. Ohuaya ohuaya!

In ma ya moyol iuh quimati in antepilhuan in ancuaht’anmocelo ah mochipan titocnihuan zan cuel achic nican timochi tonyazque o ye ichan. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Nitlayocoya nicnotlamati-Aya!-zan ni tepiltzin ni Nezahualcoyotl-Huiya!-xochitica ihuan cuicatica niquilnamiqui in tepilhuan in oyaque yehuan Tezozomoctzin ihuan Cuahcuauhtzin. A ohuaya ohuaya.

Oc nelli nemoa in Quenonamican: ma ya niquintoca in tepilhuan. Huiya! Ma niquitquili toxochiuh-Aya!-ma itech nonaci yectli yan cuicatl, Tezozomoctzin ihuan Cuahcuauhtzin. A ohuaya ohuaya.

O aic om polihuiz in moteyo nopiltzin ti Tezozomoctzin. Anca zan ye mocuic. O a ica nihualchoca in zan nicnotlamatico zan tiya ehuan. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Zan nihuallayocoya nicnotlamatia ayoc in ayoc in quenmanian titech ya ittaquiuh in tlalticpac in zan tiya ehuan. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Source: Cantares Mexicanos #40 (25rv). 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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