One of the most beautiful cultural treasures of pre-Columbian Mexican culture are the poems of Nezahualcoyotl, since this poet-king poured into them a deep philosophical and spiritual system that connects man with nature and the cosmos.
And through that thought and the poetry he wrote, this sage raised existential questions such as death and the transience of life, and sang to love and beauty as a conscious call to radical existence.
Do not miss the interesting biography of this wise and philanthropic governor who made his life a metaphor of his thoughts about him whose moral you will discover in his poems.
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The poet king of Texcoco. Who was Nezahualcoyotl?
The pre-Columbian chronicles say that the poet king of Texcoco was born in 1402 and received the name Nezahualcoyotl, “the fasting coyote” . During his youth he allied himself with the Mexicas to avenge the death of his father, assassinated by the tyrannical power of the Tepanecas, and recover the throne of Texcoco, the Aztec city-state that he ruled until his death.
But his political value transcended the conquests and the government, because his intellectual formation and the depth of his soul elevated him as a truly special character, out of his time and with an inclination to philanthropy . Although he lived in a polytheistic society, he began to develop the idea of a single god.
Along with his political work and the development of the arts, and especially poetry, Nezahualcoyotl stood out for his brilliant urban works, among which the construction of a botanical garden stands out, with pools of water and aqueducts , and the separation of fresh water and salty from the great lake of Texcoco.
In his urban and architectural works there was also room for some meeting and meeting spaces where the sages and poets of the place used to meet. A true flowering of culture and art where Nezahualcoyotl reigned with his poetry and the development of a whole philosophy that combined astrology and the connection between the human and the divine.
The poet king died in 1472, leaving behind an extensive empire and a valuable literary work that was kept in the Old Library of Texcoco .
Painting of the poet king Nezahuelcoyotl. | Social media. 12 poems by Nezahualcoyotl
Erected as a wise governor, Nezahualcoyotl developed a highly valued poetry that includes very interesting reflections on existence, the idea of death and divine power. Among his poetic work, the short poems are especially valuable. 1. I ask it
I Nezahualcoyotl ask it:
Do you really live with roots in the earth
Nothing is forever on earth:
Just a little here.
Even if it’s made of jade it breaks,
even if it’s made of gold it breaks,
Even if it’s quetzal plumage, it tears.
Not forever on earth,
just a little here.
Nezahualcoyotl stands as a great interrogator of the mystery of existence, transmitting the idea of the transience of life and the fragility of matter . A vital reflection in which the poet king includes recurrent elements in his poetry such as jade, gold and feathers. 2. My flowers will
not end My flowers will not end,
my songs will not cease.
I, the singer, raise them up,
they spread out, they spread out.
Even when the flowers
wither and turn yellow, they
will be carried there,
into the house
of the golden-feathered bird.
Nezahualcoyotl used to always refer to nature as a sacred element, and in this poetry his sensitivity towards nature as a source of peace and love is perceived. If you read it carefully, you will discover a metaphor of its poetic song as eternity of beauty . 3. Thought
As if they were flowers,
our songs are like attire,
with them we come to die on earth.
A very short poem in which the poet-king again conceives poetry as a metaphor of the vital song to beauty, in which man lives as a radical experience during his mortal life and through which he eternalizes beyond death. 4. Understand my heart
At last my heart understands:
I hear a song, I
contemplate a flower.
Hopefully they don’t wither!
Another very short poem, just four lines in which he expresses the arrival of knowledge in his heart From him. It is about essential knowledge, the most important, something transcendental: in the beauty of a song and a flower we exist, but one day everything will perish. 5. I’m drunk
I’m drunk, I cry, I grieve, I
think, I say,
inside I find it:
If I never died,
if I never disappeared,
there where there is no death,
there where it is conquest.
Let me go there,
if I never died,
if I never disappeared.
One of the most beautiful poems of Nezahualcoyotl because it has a special musicality and a rhyme endowed with cadence. In addition, the message centers the meaning of his profound philosophy : there is a place where man never dies, beyond death. 6. I remember that I left
? With what do I have to leave ? I
behind me on
Nezahualcoyotl’s poetry becomes here the existential questions that run through the entire universal history of literature and philosophy. What is life
? Where do we go when we die?And above all, what is our mission on this earth : to leave a legacy of peace and good deeds, this is the moral of his thought. 7. Where will we go
? Where will we go
where death does not exist
? More, for this I will live crying
That your heart be straightened:
Here nobody will live forever.
Even the princes came to die,
the funerary packages are burned.
May your heart be straightened:
Here no one will live forever.
It could be a continuation of the previous poem, because the poet king wonders in this short poem where we can find a place where death does not exist. In reality, it is a hymn to life and to take advantage of existence, since not even kings live forever. 8. I am rich
I am rich,
I, Mr. Nezahualcoyotl.
I gather the necklace,
the wide plumage of the quetzal,
from experience I know the jades,
they are the prince friends!
I look at their faces,
everywhere eagles and tigers,
from experience I know the jades,
the precious anklets…
In this poem Nezahualcoyotl abandons the philosophical depth and presents himself as a powerful king who has nature, animals, riches and men. Recurring elements appear such as jade and quetzal feathers(colorful tropical bird of Mesoamerica). 9. I love the song of the mockingbird
I love the song of the mockingbird,
bird of the 400 voices.
I love the color of jade,
and the enervating perfume of flowers,
but what I love most is my brother,
A mockingbird is a bird typical of Mexico that the poet king uses here as one of the elements of sacred nature to which he attributes greatness and love. But it is nothing more than a pretext to declare, in a clear and moving way, his love for the man . 10. I perceive the secret
I perceive the secret, the hidden:
Oh, you gentlemen!
That’s how we are, we are mortal,
four by four we men,
We will all have to go,
We will all have to die on earth.
In the same way that in another poem the knowledge reached his heart, in this short poem the sage reveals the hidden secret: the mortality of men. Between pessimism and vitality, the poet-king presents man in his smallness to call for the realization of his greatness . 11. Spring song
In the house of paintings
he begins to sing,
rehearses the song,
makes the song happy.
He resounds the song,
the bells are heard.
Our flowery rattles
respond to them .
He showers flowers,
cheers the song.
A poem that any romantic poet could have filmed, as it expresses the beauty of the outbreak of spring in all its splendor : the musicality of nature, its color, its aromas, its visual beauty. Man marvels at wild nature. 12. Only him
Only him, the Giver of Life.
I had vain wisdom,
did someone not know
? Did someone
not make me happy next to the people.
Precious realities make it rain,
your happiness comes from you,
Giver of Life!
Fragrant flowers, precious flowers,
I longed for them,
I had vain wisdom…
Undoubtedly the poem in which Nezahualcoyotl consolidates his monotheistic thought of worshiping a single god, who is at the same time the creator and inspirer of all beautiful things . Somehow, in this poem this sage concentrates all the divinities of the polytheistic culture of his time in a single entity, the Giver of Life.
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