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Posts Tagged ‘Nezahualcoyotl’

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William Douglas Lansford and his wife Ruth were very active on California coastal protection especially the preservation of the Ballona Lagoon during my association with the efforts to conserve California’s irreplaceable coastal resources. Lansford was also a distinguished author. His Wikipedia page describes some of Lansford’s literary accomplishments as follows:

“Lansford began writing over 300 short stories and articles for American magazines the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Argosy, True, and other Men’s adventure magazines, Leatherneck Magazine, Stars and Stripes and many others. He wrote several non-fiction books such as the biographies Stranger than Fiction: The Real Life Adventures of Jack London (1958) and Pancho Villa (1965). The latter was filmed as Villa Rides in 1968 with Lansford doing an early draft of the screenplay.

“Lansford wrote many teleplays for American television series such as Four Star Playhouse, Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Rookies, Starsky and Hutch, CHiPs, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also wrote the screenplays for made for TV movies depicting Jesse James (The Intruders) and Charles Whitman (The Deadly Tower). He produced, directed, and wrote the film Adios East Los Angelos.”

Lansford passed away in 2013.

After reading my posting of Flower Song of Nezahualcoyotl in This and That (see above #72  and in my blog https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-8-shadow-0008-june-27-2019/) Bill’s wife wrote me the following:

“Bill did a detailed outline for a mini-series on the conquest of Mexico (NOT Cortez centered) but never lived to do the scripts. In the process, he became so intrigued by Nahuatl poetry and its distinct style that he wrote a chapbook of original poems in that style.”

Here is that poem:

 

NEZAHUALCOYOTL

     By William Lansford

 

 

In the night Nezahualcoyotl awoke; indeed,

He awoke, bolting in the night,

In the darkness; under the moonless void, he awoke,

With racing thoughts of dark despair.

He, a King, our mighty Lord,

Poet of an Empire, Voice of Texcoco,

Thought of his Empire,

Of the Golden Orb of Fire –

Of Tonatiuh, Traveler of the Skies,

Drinker of Blood, Eater of Flesh,

Giver of Life to the World.

Where did the Golden Warrior, the Disk of Fire

Hide each night?

Into the belly of the Earth Monster they said he went;

Swallowed by the Eater of Graves, he, the Earth God,

Tlaltecuhtli.

There he slumbered, regaining his strength, his spirit,

As Nezahualcoyotl had once regained his spirit,

When youth was his and sleep was his beneath the gentle

light

Of Coyolxauhqui, Moon-Sister of the stars, of Huitzilopochtli.

Now Evil Spirits ruled the night; the Ghosts,

The fearsome heads roamed with fangs of flint and burning

eyes

And at the Crossroads the Crying Women waited for the unwary,

And sinners’ corpses, long decayed, rose from

Unholy graves to haunt the living.

Such were our times, my Lords,

That ancient Nezahualcoyotl could no longer sleep,

For slumber, peace, indeed, rest, eluded him and

His Poet’s mind burned like comets, like volcanos

in the night,

Grieving for his people –

Despairing for his country’s fate.

What did Nezahualcoyotl sense in the darkness

That none of us sensed?

Across the Lake; across glittering Texcoco Lake;

Our Moonlake; rested the Mightiest Lord on Earth.

The Emperor Axayacotl, Lord of Aztecs, of the Mexica,

Slept in his palace, amid the splendor of Tenochtitlan,

The Mother of Kingdoms, bellybutton of the Moon.

And now – as the Golden Warrior burst free of the

Monster’s throat;

Now, at the 9th hour, the hour of Tlaloc; indeed,

the end of darkness,

The Snake-drum Priests awoke to greet our Prince of Light –

Sun God – God of Life –

And blood flowed for golden Tonatiuh to drink;

And blood was sprinkled on his altars;

And prayers were chanted

And all was well, yet –

This night was the first when Nezahualcoyotl could not sleep;

No longer slumbered; indeed, could not court repose.

Uncle to the Ruler of Kings; father to 400 Princes;

Lord of Texcoco, Poet to the World –

Nezahualcoyotl found no rest.

And from his burning mind, his fears, his wisdom, and

his sorrow sprang

These words for men to ponder:

We are a river, flowing to the sea –

And we shall not return…

By William Lansford

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SONG OF THE FLIGHT

In vain I was born. Ayahue.

In vain I left the house of god and came to earth. I am so wretched! Ohuaya, Ohuaya!

I wish I’d never been born, truly that I’d never come to earth. That’s what I say. But what is there to do? Do I have to live among the people? What then? Princes, tell me! Aya. Ohuaya, Ohuaya!

Do I have to stand on earth? What is my destiny? My heart suffers. I am unfortunate. You were hardly my friend here on earth, Life Giver. Ohuaya, Ohuaya!

How to live among the people? Does He who sustains and lifts men have no discretion? Go, friends, live in peace, pass your life in calm! While I have to live stooped, with my head bent down when I am among the people. Ohuaya, Ohuaya!

For this I cry – Yeehuya!- feeling desolate, abandoned among men on the earth. How do you decide your heart – Yeehuya! – Life Giver? Already your anger is vanishing, your compassion welling! Aya! I am at your side, God. Do you plan my death? Ohuaya, Ohuaya!

Is it true we take pleasure, we who live on earth? Is it certain that we live to enjoy ourselves on earth? But we are all so filled with grief. Are bitterness and anguish the destiny of the people of earth? Ohuaya, Ohuaya!

But do not anguish, my heart! Recall nothing now. In truth it hardly gains compassion on this earth. Truly you have come to increase bitterness at your side, next to you, Oh Life Giver. Yyao yyahue auhuayye oo huiya.

I only look for, I remember my friends. Perhaps they will come one more time, perhaps they will return to life? Or only once do we perish, only one time here on earth? If only our hearts did not suffer! next to, at your side, Life Giver. Yyao yyahue auhuayye oo huiya.
Romances de los Señores #36 (21r-22v)

 

(Composed when Nezahualcoyotl was fleeing the king of Azcapotzalco, either during his first flight in 1418, when he was 16 or during his second flight, around 1426, when he was 24. This is the earliest poem that we can date.)

IN CHOLOLIZTLI CUICATL

 

O nen notlacatli. Ayahue!

O nen nonquizaco teotl ichan in tlalticpac. Ninotolinia. Ohuaya ohuaya!
In ma on nel nonquiz in ma on nel nontlacat ah niquitohua yece. Yeehuaya! Tlen naiz anonohuaco tepilhuan? At teixco ninemi? Quen huel xon mimati. Aya Ohuaya ohuaya!

Ye ya nonehuaz in tlalticpac? Ye ya tie in nolhuil? Zan nitoliniya tonehua noyollo tinocniuh in ayaxcan in tlalticpac ye nican. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Quen in nemohua—Aya!—in tenahuac? Mach ilihuiztia nemia tehuic teyaconi. Aya! Nemi zan ihuiyan zan icemelia. In zan nonopechteca zan nitolotinemi a in tenahuac. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Zan ye ica nichoca—Yeehuaya!—nicnotlamati no nicnocahualoc in tenahuac tlalticpac. Quen quinequi noyollo—Yeehuaya!—ipal nemohuani? Ma oc melel on quiza a icnopillotl. Huiya! Ma oc timalihui—Aya!—monahuac titeotl. At ya nech mikitlani? Ohuaya ohuaya.

Azomo ye nelli tipaqui ti ya nemi tlalticpac? Ah ca za tinemi ihuan ti hual paqui in tlalticpac. Ah ca mochi ihui titotolinia. Ah ca no chichic teopouhqui tenahuac ye nican. Ohuaya ohuaya.

Ma xi icnotlamati noyollo. Yeehuaya! Maca oc tle xic yococa. Yeehuaya! Ye nelli in ayaxcan nicnopiltihua in tlalticpac. Ye nelli cococ ye otimalihuico in motloc monahuac in ipal nemohua. Yyao yyahue ahuayye oo Huiya.

Zan niquintemohua—Aya!—niquilnamiqui in tocnihuan. Cuix oc ceppa huitze in cuix oc nemiquihui? Zan cen ti ya polihuia zan cen ye nican in tlalticpac. Maca cocoya inyollo itloc inahuac in ipal nemohua. Yyao yyahue ahuayye oo Huiya.
Romances de los Señores #36 (21r-22v)

 

Discussion.

Nezahualcoyotl (Hungry Coyote) was considered by his peers to be the greatest poet of ancient Mexico. His compositions had vast influence, stylistically and in content. Filled with thought, symbol, and myth, his poetry moved his people’s culture so deeply that after his death generations of poets to follow would stand by the huehuétl drum and cry, “I am Nezahualcoyotl, I am Hungry Coyote,” and sing his poems and keep them alive.

Nezahualcoyotl was not only a great lyric poet but was famed as an architect, engineer, city planner, reluctant warrior, law-giver and philosopher. The cultural institutions he established included a library of hieroglyphic books, a zoological garden-arboretum, and a self-governing academy of scholars and poets. He led his city-state out of foreign domination and transformed it into a wellspring of art and culture. The seventh ruler (tlacatecuhtli) of Tezcoco, a large pueblo on the north shore of Lake Tezcoco, ten miles across the water from the capital of the Aztecs, Hungry Coyote promoted a renewal of Toltec learning, based on the peaceful religion of Quetzalcóatl, at the very moment when the Aztec cult of sacrifice was coming into ascendancy. All the Nahuatl-speaking city-states in the Valley of Mexico looked to Hungry Coyote’s Tezcoco as the cultural center of their world.

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