Aztec Poetry: Prince Nezahualcoyotl

Nezahualcoyotl, meaning “Coyote in fast” or “Coyote who Fasts” was a philosopher, warrior, architect, poet and ruler of the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico. Texcoco was a member of the triple alliance known as the Aztec empire.

The tradition of poetry in Aztec civilization is little understood today. explores what exists in terms of the Aztec poetic tradition at some length, the full collection being accessible through search.
— Orly


Totoco totoco tico, totoco totoco ic ontlantiuh tico titico ti tico tico.

1. I bring forth our drum that I may show the power and the grandeur in which thou standest, decked with flowers of song: I seek a song wherewith to drape thee, ah! oh!

2. Thou, my Lord, O thou Nezahualcoyotl, thou goest to Mictlan in some manner and at a fixed time, ere long.

3. For this, for this, I weep, I Nezahualcoyotl, inasmuch as I am to go, I am to be lost in death, I must leave thee; my God, the Giver of Life, thou commandest me, that I go forth, that I be lost, alas.

4. How shall the land of Acolhuacan remain, alas? How shall we, thy servants, spread abroad its fame? I must leave thee; my God, etc.

5. Even this song for thy draping may perish, which we have written for our children, it will no longer have a home here on earth when we shall wholly leave these fragrant flowers.

6. Alas! thy riches shall end; the Giver of Life teaches me that but for a little while do we enjoy the prince Nezahualcoyotl, nor a second time will he come to his house on earth; no second time will he rejoice on earth; but I the singer grieve, recalling to memory Nezahualcoyotl.

7. Let us seek while here the god, the Giver of Life; I grieve, recalling to memory Nezahualcoyotl.


Nahuatl version:


Totoco, totoco, tico, totoco totoco, then it ends with tico titico, titico, tico.

1. Nicaya quetza con tohuehueuh aoniquimitotia quauhtlocelo yn ca tiyayhcac in cuicaxochitl, nictemoan cuicatl ye tonequimilol ayyo.

2. Ti Nopiltzi o ti Nezahualcoyotl o tiya Mictl a quenonamica y yece miyoncan ay yo.

3. Quiyon quiyon caya nichocaya ya ni Nezahualcoyotl huiya queni yeno yaz o ya nipolihuiz oya miquitla ye nimitzcahua noteouh ypalnemo o tinechnahuatia ye niaz nipolihuiz aya, yo.

4. Quenon maniz tlallin Acolihuacan huiya cuixoca quen mano o ticmomoyahuaz in momacehuali ye nimitzcahua noteouh, etc.

5. Can yio cuicatli tonequimilol quipoloaya a in totlacuiloli tepilhuan oo maya o huitihua nican aya ayac ichan tlalticpac oo ticyacencahuazque huelic ye xochitl ayio.

6. O ayac quitlamitaz monecuiltonol ypalnemoa a noyolquimati cuelachic otictlanehuico Nezahualcoyotzin ay oppatihua nican anaya y chan tlpc. Oon yn ay oppatihua in tlalticpacqui, zan nicuicanitl ayaho onnichocaya niquelnamiqui Nezahualcoyotl aya ho.

7. Xo acico ye nican in teotl aya ypalnemoa, ayaho on nichocaya a niquelnamiqui Nezalhuacoyotl ayio.


Source:  D.G.B. [1] 

Culture:  Mexica (Aztec)

Language Group:  Nahuatl

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