Aztec Poetry: Flower in my Heart

Aztec Poetry: Flower in my Heart

The Hymn that follows is associated with an eight year cycle, the full purpose of which is unknown, and is described thus:

When the Indians celebrated the festival called atamalqualiztli, which took place every eight years, certain natives called Mazateca swallowed living serpents and frogs, and received garments as a recompense for their daring.” We are not informed as to the purpose of the festival, and its name, which signifies “eating bread made with water,” is merely that of one of the regular systems of fasting.

This is the Hymn which the Mexica (Aztecs) sang every eight years when they fasted on bread and water, and called upon their deities. Like most Mexica songs in poetic form, they retain a lament tradition.

The hymn makes reference to a range of deities, and ends with “O youths! O youths! follow the example of your ancestors; make yourselves equal to them in the ball court”. The Ball Court was in its day central to the life of Mexica and Maya, as the physical archeological evidence makes abundantly clear, and the Hymns links prowess in the Ball Court with a definition of personal honour.

The hymn is found in Rig Veda Americanus, Sacred Songs of the Ancient Mexicans, edited by Daniel G. Brinton (1890).

With the destruction of virtually all the Aztec books at the time of the conquest, the Legends and Fables of this culture survive in the form of Hymns and Poems.
— Orly


1. The flower in my heart blossoms and spreads abroad in the middle of the night.

2.  Tonan has satisfied her passion, the goddess Tlazolteotl has satisfied her passion.

3.  I, Cinteotl, was born in Paradise, I come from the place of flowers. I am the only flower, the new, the glorious one.

4.  Cinteotl was born from the water; he came born as a mortal, as a youth, from the cerulean home of the fishes, a new, a glorious god.

5.  He shone forth as the sun; his mother dwelt in the house of the dawn, varied in hue as the quechol bird, a new, a glorious flower.

6.  I came forth on the earth, even to the market place like a mortal, even I, Quetzalcoatl, great and glorious.

7.  Be ye happy under the flower-bush varied in hue as the quetzal bird; listen to the quechol singing to the gods; listen to the singing of the quechol along the river; hear its flute along the river in the house of the reeds.

8.  Alas! would that my flowers would cease from dying; our flesh is as flowers, even as flowers in the place of flowers.

9.  He plays at ball, he plays at ball, the servant of marvellous skill; he plays at ball, the precious servant; look at him; even the ruler of the nobles follows him to his house.

10.  O youths! O youths! follow the example of your ancestors; make yourselves equal to them in the ball court; establish yourselves in your houses.

11.  She goes to the mart, they carry Xochiquetzal to the mart; she speaks at Cholula; she startles my heart; she startles my heart; she has not finished, the priest knows her; where the merchants sell green jade earrings she is to be seen, in the place of wonders she is to be seen.

12.  Sleep, sleep, sleep, I fold my hands to sleep, I, O woman, sleep.



1. “The flower in my heart” is a metaphorical expression for song.
2. Tonan, “Our Mother”; Tlazolteotl, the goddess of lascivious love, Venus impudica. The verb yecoa appears to have its early signification, expressing carnal connection.
3. Centeotl, god of maize and fertility.
4. The flowers referred to are the youths and maidens who die young.
5. The house of the ball player is the tomb.
6. This verse is very obscure and is obviously corrupt. It contains the only Spanish word in the text of these hymns—obispo—a word including two letters, b and s, not in the Nahuatl alphabet.
7. The woman referred to is Xochiquetzal.



Aztec Poetry:  And then it Ends

Aztec Poetry: And then it Ends