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- Ancient Nahuatl Poetry, Containing the Nahuatl Text of XXVII Ancient Mexican
- Ancient Nahuatl Poetry by Daniel G. Brinton - Full Text Free Book
But the old chronicler, who doubtless knew it all by heart, gives us no more of it. Prosody of the Songs. The assertion is advanced by Boturini that the genu- ine ancient NahuatI poetry which has been preserved is in iambic metre, and he refers to a song of Nezahual- coyotl in his collection to prove his opinion. What study I have given to the prosody of the NahuatI tongue leads me to doubt the correctness of so sweeping a statement.
The vocalic elements of the language have certain pecu- liarities which prevent its poetry from entering unencum- bered into the domain of classical prosody. The Nahuatl vowels are long, short, interme- diate, and "with stress," or as the Spanish grammarians say, "with a jump," con saltillo. The last mentioned is peculiar to this tongue. The vowel so designated is pro- nounced with a momentary suspension or catching of the breath, rendering it emphatic. These quantities are prominent features in the formal portions of the language, characterizing inflections and declinations.
No common means of designating them have been adopted by the grammarians, and for my pre- sent purpose, I shall make use of the following signs: The general prosodic rules are: In polysyllabic words in which there are no long vowels, all the vowels are intermediate. It is, however, evident from this example that the quan- tity of Nahuatl syllables enters too much into the strictly formal part of the language for rules of position, such as some of those above given, to be binding; and doubtless for this reason the eminent grammarian Carlos de Tapia Zenteno, who was professor of the tongue in the Uni- versity of Mexico, denies that it can be reduced to defi- nite rules of prosody like those of the Latin.
Thus the first words of Song I, weije probably chanted: Tapia Zenteno whose Arte Novissima de la Lengua Mexicana was published in , rejects altogether the saltillo, and says its invention is of no use except to make students work harder! The vowels with saltillo, he maintains, are simply to be pronounced with a slight aspiration. The Vocal Delivery of the Song.
These concerts were held on ceremonial occasions in the open air, in the village squares or in the courtyards of the houses. They began in the morning and usually continued until nightfall, occasionally far into the night. The musicians occupied the centre of the square and the trained singers stood or sat around them.
When the sign was given to begin, the two most skillful singers, some- times a man and a woman, pronounced the first syllables of the song slowly but with a sharp emphasis ;- then the drums began in a low tone, and gradually increased in ' Duran, Historia de Nuez'a EspaHa, Tom.
Each verse or couplet of the song was repeated three or four times before proceeding to the next, and those songs which were of the slowest measure and least emo- tional in character were selected for the earlier hours of the festivals. None of the songs was lengthy, even the longest, in spite of the repetitions, rarely lasting over an hour.
Mendieta calls it a "contra-bass," and states that persons gifted with such a voice cultivated it assidu- ously and were in great" demand. The Nahuas call it tozqiiitl, the singing voice, and likened it to the notes of sweet singing birds. The Nahuas were not acquainted with any stringed in- strument. They manufactured, however, a variety of objects from which they could extract what seemed to them melo- dious sounds. The most important were two forms of drums, the huehuetl and the teponaztli.
I have taken some particulars from Boturini and Sahagun. The word huehuetl means something old, something ancient, and therefore important and great. The drum so-called was a hollow cylinder of wood, thicker than a man's body, and usually about five palms in height. The end was covered with tanned deerskin, firmly stretched. The sides were often elaborately carved and tastefully painted. This drum was placed upright on a stand in front of the player and the notes were produced by strik- ing the parchment with the tips of the fingers.
A smaller variety of this instrument Avas called flapanhne- huetl, or the half drum, which was of the same diameter but only half the height. The teponaztli was a cylindrical block of wood hollowed out below, and on its upper surface with two longitudinal parallel grooves running nearly from end to end, and a third in the centre at right angles to these, something in the shape of the letter I. These instruments varied greatly ' Literally, " the broken drum," from tlapana, to break, as they say tlapanhuimetzli, half moon. It is described by Tezozomoc as " un alambor bajo.
The instrument is mentioned by Tezozomoc, Cronica Mexicaua, cap. The teponaztli was the house instrument of the Nahuas. It was played in the women's apartments to amuse the noble ladies, and the war captains carried one at the side to call the attention of their cohorts on the field of battle Sahagun. The word is derived from the name of the tree whose wood was selected to make the drum, and this in turn from the verb tcponazoa, to swell, probably from some peculiarity of its growth. It was a solid block of wood, with a project- ing ridge on its upper surface and another opposite, on its lower aspect ; to the latter one or more gourds or vases were suspended, which increased and softened the sound when the upper ridge was struck with the ullip' This was undoubtedly the origin of the marimba, which I have described elsewhere.
Bancroft gives the astonishing translation of teponaztli, " wing of stone vapor! Brasseur traced the word to a Maya-Quiche root, tep. In both Nahuatl and Maya this syllable is the radicle of various words meaning to increase, enlarge, to grow strong or great, etc. The musical properties of these drums have been dis- cussed by Theodor Baker. The teponaztli, he states, could yield but two notes, and could not have been played in accord with the huehuetl. It served as an imperfect contra-bass. A large and long bone was selected, as the femur of a man or deer, and it was channeled by deep longitudinal incisions.
The pro- jections left between the fissures were rasped with another bone or a shell, and thus a harsh but varied sound could be produced. It appears to have been principally confined to the sacred music in the temples. The ayacachtli was a rattle formed of a jar of earthen- ware or a dried gourd containing pebbles which was fastened to a handle, and served to mark time in the songs and dances. An extension of this simple instru- ment was the ayacachicahualiztli, "the arrangement of rattles," which was a thin board about six feet long and 1 Theodor Baker, Ueber die Musik der Nord-Ainerikanischen IVilden.
A specimen made of the bone of a fossil elephant is possessed by Seiior A. See Tezo- zomoc, Cronica Mexicana, cap. Shaking this produced a jingle- jangle, agreeable to the native ear. The Aztec bells of copper, tzilinilli, are really metallic rattles, like our sleigh bells. They are often seen in collections of Mexican antiquities. Other names for them were coyolli and yoyotli. Various forms of flutes and fifes, made of reeds, of bone or of pottery, were called by names derived from the word pitzaua, to blow e.
Many of those made of earthenware have been preserved, and they appear to have been a highly-esteemed instru- ment, as Sahagun mentions that the leader of the choir of singers in the temple bore the title tlapitzcatzin, "the noble flute player. The shell of the tortoise, ayotl, dried and suspended, was beaten in unison with such instruments.
Recent researches by competent musical experts con- ducted upon authentic specimens of the ancient Mexican instruments have tended to elevate our opinion of their skill in this art. Cresson, of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, has critically examined the various Aztec clay flutes, whistles, etc.
That upon the four-holed clay flageolets the chro- matic and diatonic scales can be produced with a full octave. That the clay whistles or pitch pipes, which may be manipulated in quartette, will produce an octave and a fourth. From the facts above shown, the Aztecs must have possessed a knowledge of the scales as known to us, which has been fully tested by comparison with the flute and organ. All the old writers who were familiar with the native songs speak of their extreme obscurity, and the difficulty of translating them.
No one will question the intimate acquaintance with the Nahuatl language possessed by Father Sahagun ; yet no one has expressed more strongly than he the vagueness of the Nahuatl poetic dialect. This woods and these pit- falls are the songs which he has inspired to be used in his service, as praises to his honor, in the temples and else- where ; because they are composed with such a trick that ' H. It is well known that the cavern, woods or depths in which the devil hides himself were these chants or psalms which he himself has composed, and which cannot be understood in their true significance except by those who are accustomed to the peculiar style of their language.
He notes that in the fragments of the ancient verses which had been preserved until his day there were inserted be- tween the significant words certain interjections and mean- ingless syllables, apparently to fill out the metre. Never- theless, he considered the language of the chants, "pure, pleasant, brilliant, figurative and replete with allusions to the more pleasing objects in nature, as flowers, trees, brooks, etc.
Of the older grammarians. Father Carochi alone has left us actual specimens of the ancient poetic dialect, and his observations are regretably brief. Geistliche haben mir versichert, dass sie obgleich der Aztekischen Sprache vollstandig mach- tig, oft den wahren Sinn einer Beichte nicht zu verstehen vermochten, weil die Beichtende sich in rSthselhafter und metaphorreicher Weise auszudrilcken pflegten.
Nic chalchiuhcozcameca quenmach totoma in nocuic. It is gleaming red like the tlauhquechol bird. And it glows like the rainbow. The silver drum sounds like bells of turquoise. There was a book of annals written and painted in colors. I see my song unfolding in a thousand directions, like a string of precious stones," 1 Carochi's translations are not quite literal.
The following notes will explain the compounds: Tlauitl, red ochre, quechoUi, a bird so called, aztatl, a heron, ehualtia, reverential of ehua, to rise up ; hence, " It or he shone like a noble red- winged heron rising in flight. Ayaniil, mist ; cofamaloti, rainbow ; to7iameyotl, shining, brightness ; ti, connective ; viani, substantive verb. From the specimens presented in this volume and from the above extracts, I would assign the following pecu- liarities to the poetic dialect of the Nahuatl: Extreme frequency and richness of metaphor. Birds, flowers, precious stones and brilliant objects are constantly introduced in a figurative sense, often to the point of obscuring the meaning of the sentence.
Words are compounded to a much greater extent than in ordinary prose writing. Both words and grammatical forms unknown to the tongue of daily life occur.
These may be archaic, or manu- factured capriciously by the poet. Vowels are inordinately lengthened and syllables reduplicated, either for the purpose of emphasis or of meter. Meaningless interjections are inserted for metrical effect, while others are thrown in and repeated in order to express emotion. The rhetorical figure known as aposiopesis, where a sentence is left unfinished and in an interjectional con- position, for the conjunction auh, and.
Each of the lines given is a detached fragment, without connection with the others. The Preservation of the Ancient Sotigs. A certain branch of the Mexican hieroglyphic writing was largely phonetic, constructed on that method to which I have applied the adjective ikonomatic, and by which it was quite possible to preserve the sound as well as the sense of sentences and verses.
By one or both of these methods there was a large body of poetic chants the property of the Nahuatl -speaking tribes, when they were subjugated by the Europeans. Among the intelligent missionaries who devoted their lives to mas- tering the language and translating into it the doctrines of Christianity, there were a few who felt sufficient interest in these chants to write some of them down in the orig- inal tongue.
Conspicuous among these was the laborious Bernardino de Sahagun, whose works are our most valued 1 See above, page lo. He collected a number of their sacred hymns, translated them into Spanish, and inserted them into the Appendix to the Second Book of his History of New Spain ; but this portion of his work was destroyed by order of the Inquisition, as a note in the original MS. He could not, tlierefore, have doubted their antiquity and authenticity. A number of these must have come to the knowledge and were probably in the possession of the eminent mathema- tician and antiquary Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora, who lived m the latter half of the same century died It was avowedly upon the information which he thought he gleaned from these ancient chants that he constructed his historical theory of the missionary labors of St.
Thomas in Mexico in the first century of our era. The title of the work he wrote upon this notion was as follows: Half a century later, when Boturini was collecting his material, he found but very few of the old poems. In the catalogue of his MSS. The same doubt might rest on the two songs of Neza- hualcoyotl named in his Catalogue V, 2. He does not specifically state that they are in the original.
The song of Moquihuix, King of Tlatilulco, in which he celebrated his victory over the Cuextla, which Boturini states in his text p. His literary friend, however, Don Mariano Echevarria y Veitia, removes the uncertainty about the two songs of Nezahualcoyotl, as he informs us that they were in the original tongue, and adds that he had inserted them in his History without translation.
One of the chapters in this Latin Essay is entitled De Indorum Poeta- non Canticis sive Prosodiis, in which he introduces Ixtlil- xochitl's translation and also a song in the original Nahuatl, but the latter is doubtless of late date and unimportant as a really native production. Aubin, of Paris, contain a number of the original ancient songs of the highest importance, which make us regret the more that this collection has been up to the present inaccessible to students. Parte IV Mexico, Aubin, Xotice sur ttne Collection d Antiqttites Alexicaines, pp. The most distinguished figure among the Nahuatl poets was Nezahualcoyotl, ruler of.
His death took place in , at the age of eighty years. His father, Ixtlil- xochitl, had been deprived of his possessions and put to death by Tezozomoc, King of the Tepanecas, and until the death of the latter at an advanced age in , Nezahual- coyotl could make but vain efforts to restore the power of his family. Much of the time he was in extreme want, and for this reason, and for his savage persistence in the struggle, he acquired the name "the fasting or hungry wolf" — nezahual-coyotl.
Another of his names was AcolmiztU, usually translated "arm of the lion," from acuUi, shoulder, and niiztii, lion. When his power became assured, he proved himself a liberal and enlightened patron of the arts and industries. The poetry and music of his native land attracted him the more as he felt within himself the moving god, firing his imagination with poetic vision, the Deus in nobis, calescinius, agitanfillo. Not only did he diligently seek out and royally entertain skilled bards, but he himself had the credit of composing sixty chants, and it appears that after the Con- quest there were that many written down in Roman char- acters and attributed to him.
We need not inquire too closely whether they were strictly his own composition. The history of the works by royal authors every- where must not be too minutely scanned if we wish to leave them their reputation for originality. He was of a philosophic as well as a poetic tempera- ment, and reflected deeply on the problems of life and nature.
Following the inherent tendency of the enlight- ened intellect to seek unity in diversity, the One in the Many, he reached the conclusion to which so many think- ers in all ages and of all races have been driven, that underlying all phenomena is one primal and adequate Cause, the Essence of all Existence. This conclusion he expressed in a philosophic apothegm which was preserved by his disciples, in these words: To this tower he gave the name Chililitli, a term of uncertain meaning, but which we find was applied in Tenochtitlan to a building sacred 1 rrinted very incorrectly in Lord Kingsborough's edition of Ixtlilxo- chitl's Relaciones Ilistoricas Rel.
X, Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mex- ico, Vol. Hence, there were nine heavens, abodes of the gods, and nine lower regions, abodes of the souls of the dead. Another school taught that there were not nine but thirteen of these stages. The sixty poems by Nezahualcoyotl are mentioned by various writers as in existence after the Conquest, reduced to writing in the original tongue, and of several of them we have translations or abstracts. Since then they have received various renderings in prose and verse into different languages at the hands of modern writers.
I shall give a literal prose translation from the Spanish, numbering the poems and their verses, for convenience of reference, in the order in which they appear in the pages of Lord Kingsborough. See his Tezcuco en los Tiempos de sns An- tiguous Reyes, p. When Alexander von Humboldt visited Mexico he sought in vain for any fragment of the songs of the royal bard. Vues des Cordilleres, etc. The first is one referred to, and partly translated by Ixtlilxochitl, in his Historia Chichimeca cap.
He calls it a xopancuicail see ante, p. He gives the first words in the original as fol- lows: Listen with attention to the lamentations which I, the King Nezahualcoyotl, make upon my power, speak- ing with myself, and offering an example to others. O restless and striving king, when the time of thy death shall come, thy subjects shall be destroyed and driven forth ; they shall sink into dark oblivion.
Then in thy hand shall no longer be the power and the rule, but with the Creator, the All-powerful. He who saw the palaces and court of the old King Tezozomoc, how flourishing and powerful was his sway, may see them now dry and withered ; it seemed as if they should last forever, but all that the world offers is illusion and deception, as everything must end and die. The same fate befell the ancient King Colzatzli, so that no memory was left of him, nor of his lineage. In these lamentations and in this sad song, I now call to memory and offer as an example that which takes place in the spring, and the end which overtook King Tezozomoc ; and who, seeing this, can refrain from tears and wailing, that these various flowers and rich delights are bouquets that pass from hand to hand and all wither and end even in the present life!
Ye sons of kings and mighty lords, ponder well and think upon that which I tell you in these my lamenta- tions, of what takes place in spring and of the end which overtook King Tezozomoc ; and who, seeing this, can refrain from tears and wailing that these various flowers and rich delights are bouquets that pass from hand to hand and all wither and end even in the present life! Let the birds now enjoy, with melodious voices, the abundance of the house of the flowery spring, and the butterflies sip the nectar of its flowers.
The second song is preserved in a Spanish metrical translation only, but which from internal evidence I should judge to be quite literal. It admonishes him to rejoice in the present moment, as the uncertainties of life and fate must at some time, perhaps very soon, deprive him of their enjoyment. I wish to sing for a moment, since time and occasion are propitious; I hope to be permitted, as my intention merits it, and I begin my song, though it were better called a lamentation.
And thou, beloved companion, enjoy the beauty of these flowers, rejoice with me, cast out fears, for if pleas- ure ends with life, so also does pain. I, singing, will touch the sonorous instrument, and thou, rejoicing in the flowers, dance and give pleasure to God the powerful. Let us be happy in the present, for life is transitory. Thou hast placed thy noble court in Acolhuacan, thine are its lintels, thou hast decked them, and one may well believe that with such grandeur thy state shall in- crease and grow.
O prudent Yoyontzin, famous king and peerless mon- arch, rejoice in the present, be happy in the springtime, for a day shall come in which thou shalt vainly seek these joys. Then thy destiny shall snatch the sceptre from thy hand, thy moon shall wane, no longer wilt thou be strong and proud, then thy servants shall be destitute of all things. In this sad event, the nobles of thy line, the prov- inces of might, children of noble parents, lacking thee as their lord, shall taste the bitterness of poverty. They shall call to mind how great was thy pomp, thy triumphs and victories, and bewailing the glory and majesty of the past, their tears will flow like seas.
These thy descendants who serve thy plume and crown, when thou art gone, will forsake Culhuacan, and as exiles will increase their woes. Little will fame have to tell of this wondrous maj- esty, worthy of a thousand heralds ; the nations will only remember how wisely governed the three chieftains who held the power, At Mexico, Montezuma the famous and valorous, at Culhuacan the fortunate Nezahualcoyotl, and at the strong- hold of Acatlapan, Totoquilhuatli. I fear no oblivion for thy just deeds, standing as thou dost in thy place appointed by the Supreme Lord of All, who governs all things.
Therefore, O Nezahualcoyotl, rejoice in what the present offers, crown thyself with flowers from thy gar- dens, hear my song and music which aim to please thee. The pleasures and riches of this life are but loaned, their substance is vain, their appearance illusory ; and so true is this that I ask thee for an answer to these questions: What has become of Cihuapan? Of the brave Quantzintecomatzin? What of all these people? Perhaps these very words have already passed into another life.
The third is a "spring song" in which the distin- guished warriors of the king are compared to precious stones. Such jewels were believed by the Nahuas to pos- sess certain mysterious powers as charms and amulets, a belief, it is needless to say, found among almost all nations. In verse i8 there is a reference to the superstition that at dawn, when these jewels are exposed to the first rays of the sun, they emit a fine vapor which wafts abroad their subtle potency.
The poem is in Spanish verse, and the original is said to have been written down by Don Fer- nando de Avila, governor of Tlalmanalco, from the mouth of Don Juan de Aguilar, governor of Cultepec, a direct descendant of Nezahualcoyotl. The flowery spring has its house, its court, its palace, adorned with riches, with goods in abundance. With discreet art they are arranged and placed, rich feathers, precious stones, surpassing in luster the sun. There is the valued carbuncle, which from its beau- teous center darts forth rays which are the lights of knowl- edge.
There is the prized diamond, sign of strength, shoot- ing forth its brilliant gleams. Here one sees the translucent emerald suggesting the hope of the rewards of merit. Next follows the topaz, equaling the emerald, for the reward it promises is a heavenly dwelling. The amethyst, signifying the cares which a king has for his subjects, and moderation in desires.
These are what kings, princes and i-nonarchs delight to place upon their breasts and crowns. These stones which I the King Nezahualcoyotl have succeeded in uniting in loving liens, Are the famous princes, the one called Axaxacatzin, the other Chimalpopoca, and Xicomatzintlamata. To-day, somewhat rejoiced by the joy and words of these, and of the other lords who were with them, I feel, when alone, that my soul is pleased but for a brief time, and that all pleasure soon passes.
The presence of these daring eagles pleases me, of these lions and tigers who affright the world, These who by their valor win everlasting renown, whose name and whose deeds fame will perpetuate. Only to-day am I glad and look upon these rich and varied stones, the glory of my bloody battles. To-day, noble princes, protectors of the realm, my will is to entertain you and to praise you. It seems to me that ye answer from your souls, like the fine vapor arising from precious stones, — The fleeting pomps of the world are like the green willow trees, which, aspiring to permanence, are con- sumed by a fire, fall before the axe, are upturned by the wind, or are scarred and saddened by age.
The grandeurs of life are like the flowers in color and in fate ; the beauty of these remains so long as their chaste buds gather and store the rich pearls of the dawn and saving it, drop it in liquid dew ; but scarcely has the Cause of All directed upon them the full rays of the sun, when their beauty and glory fail, and the brilliant gay colors which decked forth their pride wither and fade. The delicious realms of flowers count their dynasties by short periods ; those which in the morning revel proudly in beauty and strength, by evening weep for the sad de- struction of their thrones, and for the mishaps which drive them to loss, to poverty, to death and to the grave.
All things of earth have an end, and in the midst of the most joyous lives, the breath falters, they fall, they sink into the ground. All the earth is a grave, and nought escapes it ; nothing is so perfect that it does not fall and disappear. The rivers, brooks, fountains and waters flow on, and never return to their joyous beginnings ; they hasten on to the vast realms of Tlaloc, and the wider they spread between their marges the more rapidly do they mould their own sepulchral urns. The caverns of earth are filled with pestilential dust which once was the bones, the flesh, the bodies of great ones who sate upon thrones, deciding causes, ruling assem- blies, governing armies, conquering provinces, possessing treasures, tearing down temples, flattering themselves with pride, majesty, fortune, praise and dominion.
These glories have passed like the dark smoke thrown out by the fires of Popocatepetl, leaving no monuments but the rude skins on which they are written. Were I to introduce you into the obscure bowels of this temple, and were to ask you which of these bones were those of the powerful Achalchiuhtlanextin, first chief of the ancient Toltecs ; of Necaxecmitl, devout wor- shiper of the gods ; if I inquire where is the peerless beauty of the glorious empress Xiuhtzal, where the peace- able Topiltzin, last monarch of the hapless land of Tulan ; if I ask you where are the sacred ashes of our first father Xolotl ; those of the bounteous Nopal ; those of the gener- ous Tlotzin ; or even the still warm cinders of my glorious and immortal, though unhappy and luckless father Ixtlil- xochitl ; if I continued thus questioning about all our august ancestors, what would you reply?
The same that I reply — I know not, I know not ; for first and last are confounded in the common clay. What was their fate shall be ours, and of all who follow us.
Ancient Nahuatl Poetry, Containing the Nahuatl Text of XXVII Ancient Mexican
Unconquered princes, warlike chieftains, let us seek, let us sigh for the heaven, for there all is eternal, and nothing is corruptible. No one has power to alter these heavenly lights, for they serve to display the greatness of their Creator, and as our eyes see them now, so saw them our earliest ancestors, and so shall see them our latest posterity. It will be seen that the philosophy of these songs is mostly of the Epicurean and carpe diem order. The certainty of death and the mutability of fortune, observations which press themselves upon the mind of man everywhere, are their principal staples, and cast over them a hue of mel- ancholy, relieved by exhortations to enjoy to the utmost what the present moment offers of pleasure and sensual gratification.
Here and there a gleam of a higher phi- losophy lights the sombre reflections of the bard ; his thoughts turn toward the infinite Creator of this universe, and he dimly apprehends that by making Him the sub- ject of his contemplation, there is boundless consolation even in this mortal life. Both these leading motifs recur over and over again in the songs printed in the original in the present volume, and this similarity is a common token of the authenticity of the book. The History of the Present Collection. The most recent Mexican writers formally deny that any ancient Mexican poetry is now extant.
Thus the eminent antiquary, Don Alfredo Chavero, m his elaborate work.
Mexico a traves de los Siglos, says, " the truth is, we know no specimens of the ancient poetry, and those, whether manuscript or printed, which claim to be such, date from after the Conquest. It is said that the great King Nezahualcoyotl was a poet and composed various songs ; however that may be, the fact is that we have never seen any such composi- tions, nor met any person who has seen them.
All of them are from a MS. Ramirez, to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The copy I have used is that made by the late Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg. It does not appear to be com- plete, but my efforts to have it collated with the original have not been successful. Another copy was taken by the late well-known Mexican scholar Faustino Chimalpopoca, 1 Op. The final decision of the age of the poems must come from a careful scrutiny of the internal evidence, especially the thoughts they contain and the language in which they are expressed.
In applying these tests, it should be remembered that a song may be almost wholly ancient, that is, composed anterior to the Conquest, and yet dis- play a few later allusions introduced by the person who preserved it in writing, so as to remove from it the flavor of heathenism.
Some probable instances of this kind will be pointed out in the Notes. The songs are evidently from different sources and of different epochs. There are two notes inserted in the MS. The first is in connection with No.
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In my copy of the MS, the title of this song is written twice, and between the two the following memorandum appears in Spanish: From its position and from the titles following, this note appears to apply only to No. The second note is prefixed to No. XIV, which has no title.
It is in Nahnatl, and reads as follows: Auh inic motzot- zona huehuetl cencamatl mocauhtiuh, auh in occencamatl ipan huetzi yetetl ti ; auh in huel ic ompehua centetl ti ; auh inic mocuepa quiniquac iticpa huehuetzi y huehuetl, zan mocemana in maitl ; auh quiniquac iyeinepantla oc- ceppa itenco hualcholoa in huehuetl ; tel yehuatl itech mottaz, ynima ynaquin cuicani quimati iniuh motzotzona; auh yancuican yenoceppa inin cuicatl ychan D. Diego de Leon, Governador Azcapotzalco ; yehuatl oquitzotzon in D.
Frco Placido ypan xihuitl 1, ypan in ezcalilitzin tl Jesu Christo. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Read more Read less. Prime Book Box for Kids. Andesite Press August 21, Language: Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. My only complaint would be that the book is clearly a reprint of a photocopied original library stamp and everything , so you kinda have to squint at it.
That said, it's a great book including a glossary of Nahuatl words and their definitions in the back. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. All the Nahuatl-speaking city-states in the Valley of Mexico looked to Hungry Coyote's Texcoco as the cultural center of their world. The story is not a simple one and the chronicles of his life themselves are contradictory. However, the spirit of paradox is embedded in the soul of ancient Mexico.
The complex surfaces of many flower songs xochicuicame often make them difficult to understand for many people in our culture. We do not have ready categories for them and they require effort. Yet they contain many gems of universal lasting value and offer great rewards to those willing to make that effort. Most of the flower songs that have come down to us are in two collections from the second half of the sixteenth century.
Although transcribed as they were sung at that time, they clearly contain many songs and parts of songs that are much older. The form of the flower song as it has come down to us seems to have had its beginning in the generation before Hungry Coyote. But it was his generation, and particularly he himself, who perfected the form and brought it to its greatest heights. Hungry Coyote lived at a moment when the anonymous singer, cuicani , of his people's tradition, who received verses in a song quest, began to speak of personal feelings and ideas and emerged a remembered poet.
In form and content Hungry Coyote was an innovator: He was also part of a poetic movement, a generation of poets and singers who were moving beyond the earlier modes of Nahua poetry. While most of the sacred hymns are direct and formal, the flower songs can take off wildly in many directions from a theme. Flower songs were a channel to invoke the deity in an individual and personal way. They were also connected with the ingestion of hallucinatory mushrooms and similar substances. Poetry and art were ecstatic gifts of the gods. Flower songs kept close to the rhythms and patterns of speech.
Ancient Nahuatl Poetry by Daniel G. Brinton - Full Text Free Book
Their poetics included the repetition of ideas in couplets or parallel form, a tendency to speak in metaphors, and the use of repeating synonyms and metonyms. Kennings were frequent, two words used together becoming a traditional metaphorical name for a third thing, such as "eagles and jaguars" meaning "warriors"; "mat and chair" meaning "authority"; or "flower and song" meaning "poetry. The texts indicate no regular length of line or stanza, no rhyme or meter.
The variety seems almost Whitmanesque. Refrains appear, change, and disappear in no strict pattern or order. Many of the poems as we have them seem long and confusing. Many seem to break into different voices in different stanzas, often in dialog, but not always. Repetitive syllables such as "Ohuaya, Ohuaya" follow verses of many of the songs. These are vocables or litanies, which have no translatable meaning but define the stanza. Flower songs were performed to the open-hand beat of the huehuetl drum, each poem to a distinct cadence, the beat patterns preserved along with the poems in some of the ancient texts.
The themes of flower songs seem limited, yet they were put together in endless variations: They were sometimes composed for a particular occasion to make a critical commentary on it. The two prophetic poems of Nezahualcoyotl that we have only in translation by Ixtlilxochitl do not seem to be in quite the same style as the songs in the two major collections. The style is more straightforward and grammatical. However, the originals may have been more similar.
Although these poems are usually all known as "flower songs" today, to Hungry Coyote and his contemporaries, the word xochicuicatl , "flower song," described only one particular style among many that we usually include in the genre. Xochicuicame were literally songs about flowers or relating to the ceremonies of the goddess Xochiquetzal. The Nahuatl phrase " in xochitl in cuicatl " meant "flower and song" literally, but figuratively meant "poetry" or "art. There were two general categories of song and dance, netotiliztin and macehualiztin.
The netotiliztin , "dances of joy," were the worldly dances associated with entertainment. They were performed during the fiesta parts of holidays as well as in other venues. Though they might refer to religious ceremonies, they were not a ritual part of them. The macehualiztin , dances of merit, were the sacred hymns, a ritual part of religious ceremonies. The flower songs of Hungry Coyote were netotiliztin, "dances of joy. There were many modes of netotiliztin. Xochicuicame flower songs proper and xopancuicame spring songs were spiritual and lyric.
Yaocuicame or cuauhtlicuicame warrior songs were about heroes and hunters. Icnoccuicame or tlaocolhcuicame orphan and suffering songs lamented life's insecurities. Besides these were huehuecuicame songs of old people , cihuacuicame songs of women , and others.
- Papal Rogues.
- Ancient Nahuatl Poetry by Daniel G. Brinton.
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There were also various regional styles: