Friday, March 2, 2012

"Poem to be Recited Every 8 Years While Eating Unleavened Tamales" (Aztec), trans. Anselm Hollo

the flower
     my heart
                        it opened
at midnight
     that lordly hour

she has arrived
                                         our mother
                                              goddess desire

in the birth house
in the flower place
on the day called ‘one flower’
     the maize god is born

in the vapor and rain place
     where we go angling for jewel-fish

     where we too make our young

soon day                        red sky
quechol-birds in the flowers

down here on earth
     you rise in the market place and say

I am lord Quetzalcoatl

let there be gladness among the flowering trees
     and the quechol-bird tribes
who are the souls of the brave

may they rejoice
     hear the word of our lord
the quechol-bird’s word

‘your brother whom we mourn
     will never be killed again
never again will the poison dart strike him’

maize flowers
     white and yellow
I have brought from the flower place

see there is the lord of the jewel land
playing ball in his holy field

there he is the old dog god

now go look if Piltzintecutli
     lord fertility himself

has yet lain down in the dark house
                               in the house where it grows dark

o Piltzintli Piltzintli
     yellow feathers
you glue all over yourself

on the ball-playing field you lie down
     and in the dark house where it grows dark

here comes a merchant

a vassal of Xochiquetzal
     mistress of Cholula

(heart o heart
     I fear the maize god is still on his way)

a merchant a man from Chacalla
     sells turquoise spikes for your ears
and turquoise bands for your arms

the sleeper the sleeper he sleeps

with my hand I have rolled him to sleep

            the woman

            am I


1 comment:

  1. Alcheringa editors: "Anselm Hollo’s English version, after Eduard Seler, Gesammelte Abhandlungen (1904), II, 1059-1061. Sahagún wrote: “Thus was respite given the maize every eight years. For it was said that we brought much torment to it—that we ate it, we put chili on it, we mixed salt with it; it was mixed with lime. As we troubled our food to death, thus we revived it. Thus, it is said, the maize was given new youth when this was done.” Tlaçolteoltl (Our-Lady-of-the-Bunghole, mother of Lord Fertility) was the patron deity of this renewal."