9 julio, 2024

22 Poems in Nahuatl Translated into Spanish (and their Meaning)

Enjoy this selection of poems in Nahuatl, the language that was spoken in pre-Hispanic America, in the Mexica Empire, and which is still spoken today by more than 2 million people.

Poetry in Nahuatl was called «flower and song», since it was characterized by being a dialogue between one’s own heart, the world, the divine and the people. Therefore, it was highly important within Aztec societies. The poets were usually priests or princes whose job was to convey poetic sentiment to the people.

The Nahuatl language is an Uto-Aztec language spoken today in Mexico, the United States, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. However, the majority of people who speak Nahuatl inhabit the central region of Mexico.

Nahuatl is a language that rescues forms of expression such as poetry, therefore several expressions of this lyrical genre can be found in books and texts written in the Nahuatl language.

Although poetry was generally transmitted orally from one generation to another, some poets can now be recognized to whom the authorship of multiple poems in Nahuatl is attributed.

Poems in Nahuatl with their translation into Spanish

1- Tochan in Altepetl (Miguel León Portilla)

Tocahn in xochitlah,

Ye in Huecauh Mexihco Tenochtitlán;

cualcan, yeccan,

otechmohual huiquili Ipalnemohuani,

nincacata totlenyouh, tomahuizouh intlatic pac.

play pocayautlan,

nemequimilolli in altepetl

Ye in axcan Mexihco Tenochtitlán;

tlahuelilocatiltic tlacahuacayan.

Cuixoc huel tiquehuazqueh nican in cuicatl?

nican otech mohualhuiquili Ipalnemohuani,

nican cacta totlenyouh, tomahuizouh in


Translation: Our House Flower Enclosure

Our house, flower enclosure,

with sunbeams in the city,

Mexico Tenochtitlan in ancient times;

good place, beautiful

our human abode,

the giver of life brought us here,

here was our fame,

our glory on earth.

Our house, smoke fog,

shroud city,

Mexico Tenochtitlan now;

crazy noise place

Can we still raise a song?

The giver of life brought us here

here was our fame,

our glory on earth.

Meaning: a reflection on home and Tenochtitlán.

2- Tochin In Metztic (Miguel León Portilla)


inchan omanqueh:

quiahuia yohualnepantla ridge.

In ihcuac oyahqueh in tlilmixtli,

yohualtotomeh patlantinemih,

azo quittayah tochin in metztic.

Nehhuatl huel oniquimittac

in yohualtotomehihuan

tochin in metztic.

Translation: The Rabbit in the Moon

the birds of the night

they stayed at home;

It rained a lot in the middle of the night.

When the black clouds left,

the birds were fluttering,

maybe they saw the rabbit on the moon.

I could contemplate

the birds of the night

and also the rabbit on the moon.

Meaning: narration about the events of a rainy night, some birds and a rabbit.

3- Niuinti (Nezahualcoyotl)

Niuinti, nichoka, niknotlamati,

nik mati, nik itoa,

nik ilnamiki:

ma ka aik nimiki

ma ka aik nipoliui.

In kan ajmikoa,

in kan on tepetiua,

in ma onkan niau…

ma ka aik nimiki,

ma ka aik nipoliui.

Translation: I am drunk

I’m drunk, I cry, I grieve

I think, I say,

inside I find it:

if i never died,

if it never went away

where there is no death

there where she is conquered,

there I go…

If I never died

if it never went away

Meaning: a reflection on death and on the possibility of a place where it does not arrive.

4- Ye nonnocuiltonohua (Nezahualcóyotl)

Ye nonnocuiltonohua,
on nitepiltzin, Nezahualcóyotl.
Nicnechico cozcatl,
in quetzalín patlahuac,
ye nonicyximatin chalchihuitl,
in tepilhuan!
Yxco nontlatlachia,
nepapan quauhtlin, ocelotl,
ye nonicyximatin chalchihuitl,
already in maquiztli…

Translation: I am rich

I am rich,
I, Mr. Nezahualcóyotl.
I gather the necklace,
the broad plumage of the quetzal,
I know jades from experience,
They are the friendly princes!
I look at their faces
everywhere eagles and tigers,
I know jades from experience,
the precious anklets…

Meaning: the poet describes what was the wealth of the time.

5- Nitlayocoya (Nezahualcoyotl)

Nitlayocoya, nicnotlamatiya,
zan, nitepiltzin Nezahualcóyotl.
Xochitica ye ihuan cuicatica
niquimilnamiqui tepilhuan,
ayn oyaque,
Yehua Tezozomoctzin, or Yehuan Quahquauhtzin.
oc nellin nemoan,
Maya niquintoca in intepilhuan,
maya niquimonitquili toxochiuh!
Ma ic ytech nonaci,
yectli yan cuicatl in Tezozomoctzin.
O ayc ompolihuiz in moteyo,
Nopiltzin, Tezozomoctzin!
anca za ye in mocuic a yca
yn zan nihualicnotlamatico,
Zan nihualayocoya, nicnotlamati.
Ayoquic, ayoc,
titechyaitaquiuh in tlalticpac,
yca, nontiya.

Translation: I’m sad

I am sad, I grieve,
I, Mr. Nezahualcóyotl.
With flowers and songs
I remember princes
to those who left,
to Tezozomoctzin, to Quahquahtzin.
They really live
where it somehow exists.
I wish I could follow the princes,
bring them our flowers!
If only I could make mine
the beautiful songs of Tezozomoctzin!
Your reputation will never perish
oh my lord, you Tezozomoctzin!
so, missing your songs,
I have come to afflict,
I have only come to be sad,
I tear myself apart.
I have come to be sad, I grieve.
You’re not here anymore, not anymore
in the region where it somehow exists,
you left us without provision on earth,
for this, I tear myself apart.

Meaning: the poet expresses his sadness and his desire to meet with governors of the past.

6- Nikitoa (Nezahualcoyotl)

Niqitoa ni Nesaualkoyotl:

Kuix ok neli nemoua in tlaltikpak?

An nochipa tlaltikpak:

san achika ya nikan.

Tel ka chalchiuitl no xamani,

no teokuitlatl in tlapani,

no ketsali posteki.

An nochipa tlaltikpak:

san achika ye nikan.

Translation: I ask

I Nezahualcóyotl ask:

Do you really live with roots in the earth?

Not forever on earth:

just a little here.

Even if it’s made of jade, it breaks

even if it is made of gold, it breaks

Even if it’s quetzal plumage, it tears.

Not forever on earth:

just a little here.

Meaning: reflection on the fragility of life on earth.

7- Nau ouac (Alfredo Ramirez)


xocquipia atl,

love, canon natliz?

love, caznamiquiz

Tiayaca quimamati’ ce ameyahli’,

Xnechihliean xalitecos!

Canon join an atl?

I love namiquiz.

Pampa love naamictinemi’

uan nitlayocoxtinemi’

Zan ipampa an atl,

an atI tlin techmaca tonemiliz,

an aehi Paetli quen ce tezcatl,

can zan notehua’ ueltimotaz,

ueltiquitaz mixco’,

a mixco iuan mixayo’.

They love mixayo chachapaca’,

ipan an achlpaetli’

love xnezi’ catleua’ mixayo’

uan catléua’ achlpactli’.

They love ueIticoniz mixayo’,

a mixayo’

tlinpeyahuin ipan moxayae.

They love xeoni’ mixayo’,

pampa an atl tlin tehua’

ticteternotinerni’ ouae,

maau ouae XALlTECO.

Translation: My water dried up

My sand dried up its water,

no more water

now where shall I drink?

now, perhaps I will die of thirst.

If anyone knows of a spring,

and men of the sandy lands, tell me!

Where is that water?

If not, I’ll die of thirst.

because now I’m thirsty

and something is shelling me: my heart.

Only because of that water,

that water that gives us life,

that crystal clear water,

where you can see yourself

you can see your face

That face with your tears

Now your tears fall repeatedly

on that clean water,

now you can’t see what your tears are

and what is clean water.

Now you can drink your tears,

those tears

that slide over your face.

Now drink your tears

because that water that you

you’re looking, it dried up,

your water has dried up, man of the sandy lands.

Meaning: the poet expresses sadness for something that was and is no longer with him.

8- Mazan moquetzacan (Nezahualcoyotl)

Ma zan moquetzacan, nicnihuan!
In icnoque on cate in tepilhuan,
non Nezahualcoyotzin,
nor cuicanitl,
Xocon cui moxochiuh ihuan in mecacehuaz.
Ma ica xi mototi!
zan tehuan nopiltzin,
zan ye ti Yoyontzin.
Ma xocon cua in cacahuatl,
in cacahuaxochitl,
ma ya on ihua in!
Ma ya netotile,
ma necuicatilo!
Ah nican touch,
ah nican tinemizque,
tonyaz ye yuhcan

Translation: stand up

My friends, stand up!
Helpless are the princes,
I am Nezahualcóyotl,
I am the singer
I am a large-headed parrot.
Take your flowers and your fan.
Go dancing with them!
You are my son,
you are Yoyontzin.
Take your cocoa now
cocoa flower,
let it be drink!
Let’s dance
begin the dialogue of the songs!
This is not our home
we won’t live here
you will have to leave anyway.

Meaning: the poet expresses his joy, possibly for a celebration.

9- Zan tontemiquico (Tochihuitzin Coyolchiuhqui)

In ic conitotehuac in Tochihuitzin;
In ic conitotehuac in Coyolchiuhqui:
Zan tocochitlehuaco,
zan goofy,
oh nelli, oh nelli
tinemico in tlalticpac.
xoxopan xihuitl ipan
Hual Cecelia, Hual Itzmolini in Toyollo
xochitl in tonacayo.
sequin cueponi,
on cuetlahuia.
In conitotehuac in Tochihuitzin.

Translation: We came to dream

This is what Tochihuitzin said,
This is how Coyolchiuhqui said:
Suddenly we came out of the dream,
We only came to dream
It’s not true, it’s not true
that we came to live on earth.
like grass in spring
it is our being.
Our heart gives birth, they germinate
flowers of our flesh.
Some open their corollas,
then they dry up.
This is what Tochihuitzin said

Meaning: a reflection on the life of humans and plants.

10- Cuicatl anyolque (Tochihuitzin Coyolchiuhqui)

cuicatl anyolque,
xochitl ancueponque,
nor zacatimaltzin, in Tochihuitzin,
ompa ye huitze

Translation: You lived the song

You lived the song
you opened the flower,
you, oh princes,
I, Tochihuitzin, am a grass weaver,
the string of flowers
there it falls

Meaning: Tochihuitzin Coyolchiuhqui, who was governor of Teotlatzinco, expresses his appreciation to the princes. In 1419 he saved Nezahualcóyotl from an attack by the Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco.

11- Temilotzin icuic

Ye ni hualla, antocnihuan in:
I don’t know,
nicteocuitla icuiya,
in icniuhyotli.
Nic cuicailacatzoa cohuayotli.
In tecpan nicquixtiz,
an ya tonmochin,
quin icuac tonmochin in otiyaque ye Mictlan.
In yuh ca zan tictlanehuico.
Ye on ya nihualla,
you on ninoquetza,
cuica nonpictihuiz,
cuica nonquixtihuiz,
Nech hualihua teotl,
nehua ni xochhuatzin,
nehua ni Temilotzin,
nehua ye nonteicniuhtiaco nican.

Translation: Temilotzin poem

I have come, oh friends of ours:
with collars girdled,
with plumage of tzinitzcan I give foundation,
with rodeo macaw feathers,
I paint with the colors of gold,
with fluttering quetzal feathers link
to the set of friends.
With songs I surround the community.
I will make her enter the palace,
there we will all be
until we have gone to the land of the dead.
Thus we will have given each other a loan.

I have already come
I stand up,
I will forge songs,
I will make the songs sprout,
for you, our friends.
I am sent from God
I am the owner of the flowers
I am Temilotzin
I have come to make friends here.

Meaning: Temilotzin, who was governor of Tzilacatlan, introduces himself and expresses kindness to some friends.

12- Ma huel manin tlalli! (Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin)

Ma huel manin tlalli!
My smell…

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