Tetlapan Quetzanitzin: My heart knows how truly I weep for my friend

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Alas, my friend, I was afflicted, I cried aloud on thy account to God. How much compassion hast thou for thy servant in this world sent here by thee to be thy subject for the space of a day on this earth!

However that may be, mayst thou so dispose my heart, that it may pass through this place of reckoning, without anger, without injury, and live a good life on earth.

My heart knows how truly I weep for my friend, how truly as it lives on earth it cries aloud for thee, my friend, to God....

Tetlapan Quetzanitzin, possibly the king of  Tlacopan, outside what is now Mexico City. He was an associate of Montezuma's, but managed to escape from the Spaniards when they seized Montezuma. From Ancient Nahuatl Poetry, tr. Daniel G. Brinton (1837–1899) (pub. 1890). In his introduction, Brinton writes of the provenance of the poems: "All of them are from a MS. volume in the library of the University of Mexico, entitled Cantares de los Mexicanos y otros opusculos, composed of various pieces in different handwritings, which, from their appearance and the character of the letter, were attributed by the eminent antiquary Don José F. Ramirez, to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."


Aua nocnihue ninentlamatia zan ninochoquilia in monahuac aya yehuan Dios, quexquich onmitzicnotlamachtia momacehual cemamanahuac ontonitlanililo in ic tontlahuica tontecemilhuitiltia in tlalticpac.

Macazo tleon xoconyoyocoya ti noyollo, yehua cuix ic nepohualoyan in oncan nemohua yehua, in atle tlahuelli in antecocolia huel on yecnemiz in tlalticpac.

In quimati noyollo nichoca yehua huel eza ye nelli in titicnihuan, huellenelli nemoa in tlalticpac in tonicniuh tlatzihuiz yehuan Dios.


Crowfoot: Life is the flash of a firefly in the night


What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

   --Attributed to Crowfoot (ca 1830-1890), chief of the Canadian Blackfoot tribe.

If you know the source of the quote, please let me know.

La Llorona, the weeping woman

I don't know what's wrong with the flowers, llorona, Ps_weeping_woman
the flowers in the graveyard.
because when the wind moves them, llorona,
it looks as if they are crying.

Alas for me, llorona, llorona,
llorona, take me to the river.
And cover me with your shawl, llorona,
for I am dying of cold.

Two kisses I bear in my soul, llorona,
that never leave me….
the last one from my mother, llorona,
and the first one I gave you….

    --Mexican folk song. "Llorona" means a weeping woman. There are many legends of La Llorona, but the one I prefer is that she is Malinche, the clever young Indian woman who helped Cortez conquer Mexico. Malinche was a real person, enslaved by the Aztecs.  Cortez called her Doña Marina. She later had a son with Cortez and he provided for her, but she died young. Because she helped the Spaniards conquer Mexico, she is said to wander through the land weeping. These are just some of the many verses of the song.

No sé que tienen las flores, llorona,
las flores del camposanto
que cuando las mueve el viento, llorona,
parece que están llorando.

Ay de mí, llorona, llorona,
llorona, llévame al rió....
y tápame con tu rebozo, llorona,
porque me muero de frió.

Dos besos llevo en el alma, llorona,
que no se apartan de mí….
el último de mi madre, llorona,
y el primero que te dí….

Nezahualcoyotl: The fleeting pomp of this world is like a green willow


“The goods of this life, its glories and riches, are but lent to us, its substance is an illusory shadow, and the things of today shall change on the coming of the morrow. Then gather the fairest flowers from thy gardens to bind round thy brow, and seize the joys of the present ere they perish.” In another song handed down by memory through the generations, Nezahualcoyotl said of the present, “The fleeting pomp of the world is like a green willow,….but at the end a sharp axe destroys it, a north wind fells it.”

  --Flute of the Smoking Mirror, a Portrait of Nezahualcoyotl, by Frances Gillmor (1903-1993) Albuquerque, UNM Press 1949)

[Nezahualcoyotl , "Hungry Coyote," (1402-1472) was king of Texcoco, in what is now Mexico, and a famous poet]