Aztec Poetry: A Flower Song

The bard presents himself as a stranger appearing before the nobles of Huexotzinco at some festival. The first two verses appear to be addressed to him by the nobles. They ask him to bring forth his drum and sing. He begins with a laudation of the power of music, proceeds to praise the noble company present, and touches those regretful chords, so common in the Nahuatl poetry, which hint at the ephemeral nature of all joy and the certainty of death and oblivion. An appeal is made to the Master of Life who inspires the soul of the poet, and whose praises should be ever in mind, an excellent, subtle and inspiring Flower Song.

The offers an extensive collection of Aztec Flower Songs accessible through search.
— Orly


1. Where thou walkest, O singer, bring forth thy flowery drum, let it stand amid beauteous feathers, let it be placed in the midst of golden flowers;

2. That thou mayest rejoice the youths and the nobles in their grandeur.

3. Wonderful indeed is it how the living song descended upon the drum, how it loosened its feathers and spread abroad the songs of the Giver of Life, and the coyol bird answered, spreading wide its notes, offering up its flowery songs of flowers.

4. Wherever I hear those words, perhaps the Giver of Life is answering, as answers the coyol bird, spreading wide its notes, offering up its flowery song of flowers.

5. It rains down precious stones and beauteous feathers rather than words; it seems to be as one reveling in food, as one who truly knows the Giver of Life.

6. Thus do the nobles glorify themselves with things of beauty, honor and delight, that they may please the one only god, though one knows not the dwelling of the Giver of Life, one knows not whether he is on earth.

Mexica Hummingbird

7. May I yet for a little while have time to revel in those precious and honorable youths; may I wreathe flowers for their nobility; may I here yet for a while wind the songs around the drum.

8. I am a guest here among the rulers of Huexotzinco; I lift up my voice and sing of precious stones and emeralds; I select from among the youths those for whom I shall wreathe the flowers of nobility.

9. There comes from within the heavens a good flower, a good song, which will destroy your grief, destroy your sorrow; therefore, Chief of the Chichimecs, be glad and rejoice.

10. Here, delightful friendship, turning about with scarlet dyed wings, rains down its flowers, and the warriors and youths, holding in their hands the fragrant xilo flowers, walk about inhaling the sweet odor.

11. The golden coyol bird sings sweetly to you, sweetly lifts its voice like a flower, like sweet flowers in your hand, as you converse and lift your voice in singing, etc.

12. Even like the quechol bird to the Giver of Life, even as the herald of God, you have waited for the dawn, and gone forth singing ohui, etc.

13. Although I wish that the Giver of Life shall give for flowers the shield-flower, how shall I grieve that your efforts have been in vain, that you have gone forth from the world.

14. Even as I shall go forth into the place of decayed flowers, so sometime will it be with your fame and deeds on earth. Although they are flowers, although they are songs, how shall I grieve that your efforts have been in vain, that you have gone forth from the world.

15. Let us be glad, dear friends, let us rejoice while we walk here on this flowery earth; may the end never come of our flowers and songs, but may they continue in the mansion of the Giver of Life.

16. Yet a little while and your friends must pass from earth. What does friendship offer of enjoyment, when soon we shall no longer be known on earth?

17. This is the burden of my song, of the garland of flowers played on the flute, without equal in the place of the nobles.

18. Within the house of flowers the Lord of the Waters, of the Gate of the Waters, answers thee, has answered thee.

19. Where thou livest, my beloved, the Giver of Life sends down upon thee sometimes things of sadness; but I, the singer, shall make thee glad in the place of difficulty, in the place of cumber.

20. Here are the many flowers, the beauteous flowers, rained down within the house of spring, within its painted house, and I with them shall make thee glad.

21. O, you there in Tlaxcala, you have played like sweet bells upon your drums, even like brilliantly colored flowers. There was Xicontecatl, lord of Tizatlan, the rosy-mouthed, whose songs gave joy like flowers, who listened to the words of the one only God.

22. Thy house, O Giver of Life is in all places; its mats are of flowers, finely spun with flowers, where thy children pray to thee.

23. A rain of various flowers falls where stands the drum, beauteous wreaths entwine it, sweet flowers are poured down around it.

24. Where the brilliant scolopender basks, the coyol bird scatters abroad its songs, answering back the nobles, rejoicing in their prowess and might.

25. Scattering flowers I rejoice you, dear friends, with my drum, awaiting what comes to our minds.

26. It reaches even to God, he hears it seeking him within the heavens, the song comes and the angels answer, playing on their flutes.

27. But I am sad within this wood.


Nahuatl version:


1. Can ti ya nemia ticuicanitl ma ya hualmoquetza xochihuehuetl quetzaltica huiconticac teocuitlaxochinenepaniuhticac y ayamo aye iliamo aye huiy ohuaya, ohuaya.

2. Tiquimonahuiltiz in tepilhuan teteucto in quauhtlo ocelotl ayamo, etc.

3. In tlacăce otemoc aya huehuetitlan ya nemi in cuicanitlhuia zan qui quetzal in tomaya quexexeloa aya icuic ipalnemoa qui ya nanquilia in coyolyantototl oncuicatinemi xochimanamanaya taxocha ohuaya, ohuaya.

4. In canon in noconcaqui in tlatol aya tlacazo yehuatl ipalnemoa quiyananquilia quiyananquilia in coyolyantototl on cuicatinemi xochimanamanaya, etc.

5. In chalchihuitl ohuayee on quetzal pipixauhtimania in amo tlatolhuia, noyuh ye quittoa yayoquan yehuayan cuetzpal ohuaye anquinelin ye quimatin ipalnemoa ohuaya.

6. Noyuh quichihua con teuctlon timaloa yecan quetzalmaquiztla matilolticoya conahuiltia icelteotlhuia achcanon azo a yan ipalnemoa achcanon azo tle nel in tlalticpac ohuaya.

7. Macuelachic aya maoc ixquich cahuitl niquin notlanehui in chalchiuhtini in maquiztini in tepilhuan aya; zan nicxochimalina in tecpillotl huia: zan ca nican nocuic ica ya nocon ilacatzohua a in huehuetitlan a ohuaya ohuaya.

8. Oc noncoati nican Huexotzinco y nitlătohuani ni teca ehuatzin huiya chalchiuhti zan quetzalitztin y, niquincenquixtia in tepilhuan aya zan nicxochimalina in tecpillotl huia ohuaya ohuaya.

9. A in ilhuicac itic ompa yeya huitz in yectliyan xochitl yectliyan cuicatl y, conpolo antellel conpolo antotlayocol y in tlacazo yehuatl in Chichimecatl teuctli in teca yehuatzin ica xonahuiacan a ohuaya ohuaya.

10. Moquetzal izqui xochintzetzeloa in icniuhyotl aztlacaxtlatlapantica ye onmalinticac in quetzalxiloxochitl imapan onnĕnemi conchichichintinemi in teteuctin in tepilhuan.

11. Zan teocuitlacoyoltototl o huel yectli namocuic huel yectli in anq'ehua anquin ye oncan y xochitl y ya hualyuhcan y xochitl imapan amoncate in amontlatlătoa ye ohuaya ohui ohui ilili y yao ayya hue ho ama ha ilili ohua y yaohuia.

12. O ach ancati quechol in ipalnemoa o ach ancati tlatocauh yehuan Dios huiya achto tiamehuan anquitztoque tlahuizcalli amoncuicatinemi ohui, ohui, ilili, etc.

13. Maciuhtiao o in quinequi noyollo, zan chimalli xochitl mixochiuh ipalnemoani, quen conchihuaz noyollo yehua onentacico tonquizaco in tlalticpac a ohuaya ohuaya.

14. Zan ca yuhqui noyaz in o ompopoliuh xochitla antlenotleyoye in quemmanian, antlenitacihcayez in tlalticpac. Manel xochitl manel cuicatl, quen conchihuaz noyollo yehua onentacico tonquizaco in tlalticpac ohuaya ohuaya.

15. Manton ahuiacan antocnihuan aya ma on nequech nahualo nican huiya a xochintlaticpac ontiyanemi yenican ayac quitlamitehuaz in xochitl in cuicatl in mani a ichan ipalnemohuani yi ao ailili yi ao aya hue aye ohuaya.

16. In zancuelachitzincan tlalticpac aya ayaoc noiuhcan quennonamicani cuixocpacohua icniuhtihuay auh in amo zanio nican totiximatizo in tlalticpac y yiao ha ilili yiao.

17. Noconca con cuicatl noconca o quin tlapitzaya xochimecatl ayoquan teuctliya ahuayie, ohuayiao ayio yo ohua.

18. Zan mitzyananquili omitzyananquili xochincalaitec y in aquiauhatzin in tlacateuhtli ayapancatl yahuayia.

19. Can tinemi noteouh ipalnemohuani mitztemohua in quemmanian y mocanitlaocoyan, nicuicanitlhuia, zan ni mitzahuiltiaya ohuiyan tililiyanco huia ohuaya ohuaya.

20. In zan ca izqui xochitl in quetzalizqui xochitl pixahui ye nican xopancalaitec i tlacuilolcalitec, zan nimitzahahuiltiaya ohui.

21. O anqui ye oncan Tlaxcala, ayahue, chalchiuhtetzilacuicatoque in huehuetitlan ohuaye, xochin poyon ayiahue Xicontencatl teuctli in Tizatlacatzin in camaxochitzin cuicatica y melelquiza xochiticaya on chielo itlatol ohuay icelteotl ohuaya.

22. O, anqui nohuia y, ye mochan ipalnemohua xochipetlatl ye noca xochitica on tzauhticac oncan mitztlatlauhtia in tepilhua ohuaya.

23. In nepapan xochiquahuitl onicac, aya, huehuetitlan a a yiahue, can canticaya quetzaltica malintimani, ya, yecxochitl motzetzeloaya ohuaya ohuaya.

24. Can quetzatzal petlacoatl yepac o, ye nemi coyoltototl cuicatinemiya, can quinanquili teuctli ya, conahuiltianquauhtloocelotl ohuaya ohuaya.

25. Xochitzetzeliuhtoc y, niconnetolilo antocnihuan huehuetitlan ai on chielo can nontlamati toyollo yehua ohuaya ohuaya.

26. In zan ca yehuan Dios tlaxic, ya, caquican yehual temoya o ilhuicatl itic, y, cuicatihuitz, y, quinanquilia o, angelotin ontlapitztihuitzteaya oyiahue yaia o o ohuaya ohuaya.

27. Zan ninentlamatia can niquauhtenco ayahue can.


Source:  D.G.B. [1]

Culture:  Mexica (Aztec)

Language Group: Nahautl




___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________

Mound Builders: Winterville Mounds

Ojibwe: Missionary Work Among the Ojibwe