Aztec Poetry: And then it Ends
Tico, toco, tocoto, and then it ends, ticoto, ticoto.
1. The sweet voiced quechol there, ruling the earth, has intoxicated my soul.
2. I am like the quetzal bird, I am created in the house of the one only God; I sing sweet songs among the flowers; I chant songs and rejoice in my heart.
3. The fuming dew-drops from the flowers in the field intoxicate my soul.
4. I grieve to myself that ever this dwelling on earth should end.
5. I foresaw, being a Mexican, that our rule began to be destroyed, I went forth weeping that it was to bow down and be destroyed.
6. Let me not be angry that the grandeur of Mexico is to be destroyed.
7. The smoking stars gather together against it; the one who cares for flowers is about to be destroyed.
8. He who cared for books wept, he wept for the beginning of the destruction.
In native Nahuatl
Tico toco tocoto ic ontlantiuh ticoto ticoto.
1. Toztliyan quechol nipa tlantinemia in tlallaicpac oquihuinti ye noyol ahua y ya i.
2. Ni quetzaltototl niyecoya ye iquiapan ycelteotl yxochiticpac nihueloncuica oo nicuicaihtoa paqui ye noyol ahuay.
3. Xochiatl in pozontimania in tlallaicpac oquihuinti ye noyol ahua.
4. Ninochoquilia niquinotlamati ayac in chan oo tlallicpac ahua.
5. Zan niquittoaya ye ni Mexicatl mani ya huiya nohtlatoca tequantepec ni yahui polihuin chittepehua a ya ye choca in tequantepehua o huaye.
6. Ma ca qualania nohueyotehua Mexicatli polihui chile.
7. Citlalin in popocaya ipan ye moteca y za ye polihui a zan ye xochitecatl ohuaye.
8. Zan ye chocaya amaxtecatl aya caye chocaya tequantepehua.
The lamentations traditions in Nahuatl poetry is a record of the post-conquest period. Daniel Brinton has the following observations:
The destruction of the Mexican state was heralded by a series of omens and prodigies which took place at various times during the ten years preceding the arrival of Cortes. They are carefully recorded by [Bernardino de] Sahagun, in the first chapter of the 12th book of his history. They included a comet, or "smoking star," as these were called in Nahuatl, and a bright flame in the East and Southeast, over the mountains, visible from midnight to daylight, for a year. This latter occurred in 1509. The song before us is a boding chant, referring to such prognostics, and drawing from them the inference that the existence of Mexico was doomed. It was probably from just such songs that Sahagun derived his information.
1. toztliyan, I suppose from tozquitl, the singing voice, in the locative; literally, "the quechol in the place of sweet-singing."
2. iquiapan, from i, possessive prefix, quiauatl, door, entrance, house, pan, in.
5. An obscure verse; tequantepec, appears to be a textual error; tequani, a ravenous beast, from qua to eat; tepec, a mountain; but tequantepehua occurring twice later in the poem induces the belief tequani should be taken in its figurative sense of affliction, destruction, and that tepec is an old verbal form.
7. Xochitecatl, "one who cares for flowers," is said by [Benardino de] Sahagun to have been the name applied to a woman doomed to sacrifice to the divinities of the mountains (Hist. Nueva España, Lib. II, cap. 13).
8. amaxtecatl, or amoxtecatl, as the MS. may read, from amoxtli, a book.
The role of books and poetry in Mexica (Aztec) society seems disjunctive in terms of our memory of them, coming from the point of view of the conquerors. What survived in terms of a more balanced and nuanced description of their society comes from post conquest conscientious objectors who made the effort to record a more complete record, such as that of Bernardino de Sahagun.