Nezahualcoyotl: A Plain Spring Song

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Nezahualcoyotl (Hungry Coyote) born in 1402 in Texcoco, was considered the greatest poet of ancient Mexico. He was the ruler of the city-state of Texcoco, which together with the city-states of Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan made up the Aztec Empire. The Aztec Empire ruled the Valley of Mexico for 93 years (1428-1521) until Hernan Cortes’s Spanish conquistadores and his native allies defeated it. The Aztecs controlled almost all of central Mexico, except the Tlaxcalteca kingdom. However, Nezahualcoyotl was not an Aztec; his people were the Alcohuans, one of the northern tribes that migrated into the Valley of Mexico. After becoming the ruler of his homeland, his talents and vision of the city flourished and Texcoco became the center of the empire.…show more content…
He describes how people hold onto life but reminds readers that life is only a brief pleasure. To convey the message of respect for the flowers and approaching death, he repeats certain phrases just like one would in the chorus of a song. Throughout the poem he is constantly expresses his sadness regarding the transience of life, but in the end he offers thanks to the Life Giver for giving him such gifts. The use of the world flower illuminates the beauty found in life’s pleasures but it also represents a life that will end. Life blooms pretty and bright, like a flower, and in his words “golden”; however, all flowers wilt and die just like life. He also never uses of possessive pronoun to claim the flowers for himself; he specifically says they belong to the Life Giver. As a prayer or gratitude to the Life Giver, he repeats “Ohuaya” throughout the poem. Towards the end of the poem, Nezahualcoyotl mentions his friends and the “good place” they live in. He then refers to himself as Yoyontizin, derived from yoyotli. In Aztec language, yoyotli means hawk’s bell or snake’s rattle and was the name given to a plant whose poisonous properties were used by the Aztecs to treat various illnesses. In the last sentence, he refers to himself as a hawk. By saying the lords born to earth on the Life Giver’s graces were given the right to rule he could be implying that he is trying to affirm his position as a rightful and great ruler. Inspired with the majestic demeanor and fighting skills of a hawk, Nezahualcoyotl might be referring to his struggles of becoming a ruler and how he

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