Nican mopohua (“Here is recounted…”): December 9th, 1531



…..Auh in acico in inahuac tepetzintli in itocayocan Tepeyacac,

ye tlatlalchipahua…..


Concac in icpac tepetzintli cuicoa, yuhquin nepapan tlazototome cuica;

cacahuani in intozqui, iuhquin quinananquilia tepetl, huel cenca teyolquima,

tehuellamachti in incuic; quicenpanahuia in coyoltotl in tzinitzcan ihuan in

occequin tlazototome ic cuica…..


“Canin ye nica? Canin ye ninotta? Cuix ye oncan in quitotehuaque huehuetque

tachtohuan tococolhuan, in xochitlalpan in tonacatlalpan,

cuix ye oncan ilhuicatlalpan?”…..


In oyuhceuhtiquiz in cuicatl, inomocactimoman in yeequicaqui

hualnotzalo inicpac tepetzintli, quilhuia: “Juantzin, Juan Diegotzin”…..


Auh in ye acitiuh in icpac tepetzintli, in ye oquimottili ce Cihuapilli

oncanmoquetzinoticac, quihualmonochili inic onyaz in inahuactzinco…..


Auh in tetl, in texcalli in ic itech moquetza, inic quimina…..


Auh in mizquitl, in nopalli ihuan occequin nepapan xiuhtotontin

oncan mochichihuani yuhquin quetzaliztli. Yuhqui in teoxihuitl in

iatlapalio neci. Auh in icuauhyo, in ihuitzyo, in iahuayo yuhqui in

cozticteocuitlatl in pepetlaca…..


Quimolhuili:  “Tlaxiccaqui noxocoyotl Juantzin, campa in timohuica?”


Auh in yehuatl quimonanquilili: “Notecuiyoé, Cihuapillé, Nochpochtziné!

Ca ompa nonaciz mochantzinco México-Tlatilolco,

nocontepotztoca in Teyotl…..”


_____  *  _____  *  _____


…..And as he drew near the little hill called Tepeyac

it was beginning to dawn…..


He heard singing on the little hill, like the song of many precious birds;

when their voices would stop, it was as if the hill were answering them;

extremely soft and delightful; their songs exceeded the songs of the

coyoltotl and the tzinitzcan and other precious birds…..


“Where am I? Where do I find myself? Is it possible that I am in the

place our ancient ancestors, our grandparents, told about, in the

land of the flowers, in the land of corn, of our flesh, of our sustenance,

possibly in the land of heaven?”…..


And then when the singing suddenly stopped, when it could no longer

be heard, he heard someone calling him, from the top of the hill, someone

was saying to him: “Juan, Dearest Juan Diego”…..


And when he reached the top of the hill, a Maiden who was standing there,

who spoke to him, who called to him to come close to her…..


And the stone, the crag on which she stood, seemed to be giving out rays…..


And the mesquites and nopales and the other little plants that are up there

seemed like emeralds. Their leaves, like turquoise. And their trunks, their

thorns, their prickles, were shining like gold…..


She said to him, “Listen, my dearest-and-youngest son, Juan,

Where are you going?”


And he answered her: “My Lady, my Queen, my Beloved Maiden!

I am going as far as your little house in Mexico-Tlatilolco,

to follow the things of God…..”



*   *   *   *   *


On December 9th, 1531, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548)

encountered a radiant native-Mexican woman at Tepayac Hill

(site of a former temple to the Aztec Earth-Mother goddess Tonantzin).

He knew her to be Santa María Totlaconantzin – Mary, Our

Precious Mother – and she spoke to him in his own language – Náhuatl.


Tepayac is now the location of the largest shrine in Latin America –

La Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe / The Basilica of

Our Lady of Guadalupe – the name by which Juan Diego’s

Virgin Mary is known in México today…

Popularly, she is also called The Mother of All México.

Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.


The above text – in the original Náhuatl (language of the Aztecs)

plus English translation by D. K. Jordan – is taken from

Nican mopohua (“Here is recounted…”)

by Antonio Valeriano (1556),  and is the first chapter in the

written telling of the miraculous life of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

Valeriano was a native-Mexican scholar in three languages

– his birth-language, Náhuatl, plus Spanish and Latin.

Nican mopohua forms part of a larger volume,

Huei tlamahuiçoltica (“The Great Happening”),

published by Luis Laso de la Vega in 1649.   The book is a

crucial Náhuatl text from the 16th and 17th centuries

– a period of immense trauma during which a new race

el Mestizo – and a new nationality – Mexican – were being forged.

¡ Xoloitzcuintle soy !


¡ Xoloitzcuintle soy !

Xoloitzcuintle am I !

The Original Dog of The Americas


The Royal Dog of the Aztecs !

I am famed for my smooth skin,  my energy,

a playful mind and affectionate nature.

I have lasted to this day…


No other animal has stood – sunburnt –

atop the temple of Teotihuacán.

I have quivered beside immense, reclining Chac-Mool,

when his belly-bowl was full of fresh blood.

I have splashed in Xochimilco with royal maidens;

I have floated in salty Zumpango with wrinkled old priests.


I have tried to snatch the gold pellets tossed by my Master

when He plays patolli;   I have leapt for the ball

when it bounces off the buttocks of nobles engaged in

games of tlachtli.


I have licked the copal-xocotl from His divine ankles,

when Moctezuma emerged from His temazcal;

I have nuzzled His armpits inside His bed-chamber,

wearing my collar of quetzal plumes.


I have pricked my paws on metl thorns,

trying to sniff out chinicuiles to eat;  singed them

while stealing tlaxcalli off the comal.

I have lapped up pulque from my Master’s cup

– wobbled then fell down;  been bitten by nimble Coyote.


I have suckled pups at my own teats;

and my seed has reached the womb of

The Royal Bitch (La Perra Real).


¡ Soy Xoloitzcuintle !

For centuries I throve at the pinnacle.

I am the youthful spirit of the ancient world,

and though the centre has shifted,

neither do I dance at the periphery…

Escúchame – whoever you may be –

Let me teach you to live in the modern world…





Italicized words are in the Náhuatl (Aztec) language:


Xoloitzcuintle  –  lean, hairless dog, native to Mexico

– in Aztec religion, a gift to mankind from the god Xolotl

to guide the dead on the journey to the AfterLife.

“Xolos” were much-loved companion dogs, but

some were raised separately and plumpened

to be served at Aztec banquets.

patolli  –  board game involving gambling, played by the

Aztecs and the Mayans


tlachtli  –  skilful ballgame played on a stone court where

players bounce a natural-rubber ball weighing at least

5 lbs. (invention of the Olmec people) off their hips or

rear-ends – it is still played in the 21st century


copal-xocotl   –  the plant ‘saponaria americana’, the

root of which provided a sudsy soap


temazcal  –   stone sauna bath, often the size of a small house


quetzal  –  forest bird of Central America and Mexico, with

iridescent green (or green-gold) feathers


chinicuiles  –  highly-nutritious edible caterpillars

(still eaten in Mexico) that infest metl plants


tlaxcalli  –  flat maize bread, a daily staple of the Aztecs and

Mayans,  still eaten in Mexico and called by its Spanish

name, ” tortilla ”


metl  (maguey or agave)  –  Mexican plant of the “succulent”

family, used in the making of both pulque and tequila


comal   –  clay earthenware griddle placed over an open fire

– in use to this day – there is also a cast-iron skillet-like

version for the modern kitchen


pulque  –  milk-like alcoholic drink derived from fermented

sap of the metl plant – a ritual beverage of the Aztec

nobility and later a popular drink of the Mexican masses

Natalio Hernández: Náhuatl poems / Poemas en náhuatl / In xochitl in cuicatl

Natalio Hernández

Poemas de su poemario Yancuic Anahuac Cuicatl  / Canto Nuevo de Anahuac (1994):


De la sección “Xochicoscatl / Collar de Flores”:


Amo ninequi nimiquis

Amo ninequi nimiquis
ninequi niquitas yanquic tonati
ihuan yancuic tlanextli.

Amo ninequi nimiquis
ninequi nicactehuas yancuic xochicuicatl
yancuic masehualcuicatl.

Amo ninequi nimiquis
ninequi niquipohuas
yancuic masehualamoxme,
ninequi niquitztehuas
yancuic tlalamiquilistli.

Amo ninequi nimiquis
ninequi sampa nimoyolchicahuas
ocsepa cuali nimonelhuayotis
amo quema ninequi nitlacatehuas.




No quiero morir


No quiero morir,

quiero ser participe del nuevo dia

y del nuevo amanecer.


No quiero morir,

quiero disfrutar los nuevos cantos floridos,

los nuevos cantos del pueblo.


No quiero morir,

anehelo leer los nuevos libros

y admirar el surgimiento

de la nueva sabiduria.


No quiero morir,

quiero que sea vigorosa mi propia vida,

ansio recuperar mis raices:

no deseo abandonar mi vida en la tierra.




I don’t want to die


I don’t want to die,

I want to be a part of the new day,

the new dawn.


I don’t want to die,

I want to enjoy the new flowery songs,

the chants of the people.


I don’t want to die,

I long to read the new books

and to admire the rise of a new wisdom.


I don’t want to die,

I want that I might be vigorous in my own life,

I’m eager to recover my roots:

I do not wish to give up my life on this earth.




Toselti matinemican


Quemantica nimachilia

tehuan timasehualme tichia

se tlacatl tlen nochi hueli

ihuan nochi quimatl:

yehuatl huelis tech maquixtis.


Inin tlacatl tlen nochi hueli

ihuan nochi quimati

amo queman asis:

ipampa tohuan itztoc,

tohuaya nemi,

pehuaya tlachia,

nohua cochtoc.




Caminemos solos


A veces pienso que los indios

esperamos a un hombre

que todo lo pueda,

que todo lo sepa,

que ayude a resolver

todos nuestros problemas.


Pero ese hombre que todo lo puede

que todo lo sabe,

nunca llegará:

porque vive en nosotros,

se encuentra en nosotros,

camina con nosotros.


Empieza a despertar, aún duerme.




Let’s go solo


At times I think us Native people

are hoping for a man

who could do all

and know all,

who could solve

our every problem.


But that do-all know-all man,

he’ll never arrive:

because he lives inside us,

one finds him inside us,

and he walks within us.


Even though he sleeps,  he’s starting to awake.




Axtosel tinemi


Axcana toselti tiztoque

tohuaya nemi toteotzitzin

tech chicahualia yaotecame

tech tlalamictia huehuetlacame.


Tinequi chicahuac timonelhuayotise

tinequi timoyolchicahuase

tinequi tinextise totlalamiquilis.


Ohuitoc ni tequitl

ohuitoc ni ohtli:  yancuic ohtli

ihuan yancuic tlanextli.


Xihualaca, xihualaca, xihualaca

xihualaca nochi xiseliqui:

yancuic tonati ihuan yancuic tlanextli.




No estamos solos


No estamos solos

los Dioses caminan con nosotros

los guerreros nos fortalecen

recibimos consejos de los ancianos.


Queremos fortalecer nuestras raíces

deseamos fortalecer nuestros corazones

y difundir nuestra sabiduría.


Resulta difícil el trabajo

largo y penoso el camino:

camino nuevo, nuevo amanecer.


Vengan, vengan, vengan

vengan todos a recibir:

el nuevo sol y el nuevo amanecer.



De la sección “In Ahuehuetl / El Ahuehuete”:



Niyectlachixtos nochi tzictzin cahuitl

niyectlachixtos se xihuilpilli,

niyectlachixtos mica xihuilpilli.


Niyolpaquis ica se ihuan se tlahtolli

ihuan xochitzitzin,

nimoyolcuis ipan yancuix tlanextli

ihuan nochi teotlac.


Queman nitequichihuas

nimoyolnenemilis tlen axcan,

tlen mostla ihuan huiptla tonemilis:

nichihuas se ohtli,

se ohtli tlen nehuatl nonemilis.






Viviré cada segundo de mi vida,

viviré un siglo,

viviré muchos siglos.


Disfrutaré de la palabra

y cada una de las flores;

me recrearé en el amanecer

y en cada atardecer.


Trabajaré pensando en el hoy,

en el mañana y pasado mañana;

trazaré un camino:

mi camino, mi propio destino.




Cactli cahuitl

(Teotihuacan icuic)


Sintli yolli

sintli xochiohua

sintli chicahuia

sintli huaqui.


Nochi yolihui

nochi xochiohua

nochi chicahuia

nochi ixpolihui.


Toyolo yolihui

toyolo xochiohua

toyolo chicahuia

toyolo miqui.


Toaltepeme yolihui

toaltepeme xochiohua

toaltepeme chicahuia

toaltepeme ixpolihui.


Nochi yolihui

nochi ixpolihui;

ihuan iquino ocsepa

yolli ihuan ixpolihui.




Tiempo cero

(Canto a Teotihuacan)


El maíz nace

el maíz florece

el maíz madura

el maíz se seca.


Todo nace

todo florece

todo madura

todo fenece.


Nuestro corazón nace

nuestro corazón florece

nuestro corazón madura

nuestro corazón muere.


Nuestras ciudades nacen

nuestras ciudades florecen

nuestras ciudades maduran

nuestras ciudades envejecen.


Todo nace

todo desaparece;

y todo vuelve a nacer

para volver a florecer.




Ilhuicac xochitlahtolli

(Tocoltzitzin Toltecame incuic)


Amo queman titlamomatise tlahlamiquilistli,

ihuan amo queman ticasicamatise Toltecayotl;

nochipa oncas yancuic tlalamiquilistli

ihuan huehuetlamatilistli ipan tonemilis.


Cactli cahuitl ihuan Sencahuitl tlayeyecolli…




Poema sin fin

(Canto a los abuelos Toltecas)


Jamás agotaremos el conocimiento

ni alcanzaremos la perfección.

Siempre habrá algo nuevo

o algo viejo

que aprender en la vida


Sin tiempo y para todo tiempo…




Natalio Hernández nació en 1947.  Es Nahua del Estado deVeracruz, México.

Escribe poemas en la lengua náhuatl, con sus propias traducciones en español.

En 2011 en México todavía hablan Náhuatl (el lenguaje de los Aztecas)

un millón y medio de personas.

(Traducción del español al inglés por Alexander Best)


Natalio Hernández (Natalio Hernández Xocoyotzin) was born in 1947.

He is a Nahua from the State of Veracruz, México, and writes in Náhuatl

and Spanish.  In 2011 Náhuatl (the language of the Aztecs) is still spoken by

a million and a half  Mexicans.

(Translations from Spanish into English by Alexander Best)