“O, giver of life”

O, Giver of Life,
you write with flowers,
you give color with song,
you make shade with song,
for those who must live on earth.


Later, you will destroy
the eagles,
the tigers
for here on earth
we live only in your book of paintings.


With black ink,
you will obliterate
what was brotherhood,
community,
nobility.


Your shadow falls on those who must live on earth.


Romances de los señores de Nueva España fol. 35



In Nahuatl, eagles and tigers often refers to warriors; flower in adjectival form usually means beautiful; flowers and song together constitute a difrasismo or kenning meaning poetry; face is often used metaphorically to mean self; Giver of Life (ipalnemoani in Nahuatl) should not be confused with the Western concept of God. Ometeotl (Two-God) has both male and female aspects--Tonantzin, Totatzin, Our Mother, Our Father, each name including the honorific tzin. The God of Duality was non-anthropmorphic, and unlike other Nahua gods did not exhibit human characteristics.


These translations are made from Miguel León-Portilla's Spanish versions of the originals.