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Return of the king…

10 November 2009

Esther (From Xico) has become enamoured with Netzahuacóatl… to the point where she is contemplating creating English translations of the poet-tlaotani:

The entire article (a little long and well presented to be dismissed as a mere “post”) makes for good reading:

It’s not perhaps that well known al otro lado – north of the Mexico-US border that in fact the Aztecs were not simply the Aztecs, but were part of The Triple Alliance, three different states in which the Aztecs, or Mexicas of Tenochtitlan (which is today Mexico City) were dominant.  Netzahualcóyotl became the head of Texcoco, the next most influential member of the alliance.  The weakest member was Tlacopan  The triple alliance dominated the central section of Mexico pretty much from coast to coast during much of the 15th and early 16th centuries with the exception of what was the Kingdom of the Tlaxcalteca which is today Mexico’s smallest state, Tlaxcala.  It was Tlaxcala that gave Cortés essential assistance in his conquest.

But there is a great deal more to Netzahualcóyotl than his political alliances.  He was an engineer, a naturalist, a philosopher and a poet.  Leaders like him in our own experience who come to mind are Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, though none of them were poets that I know of.

I have a charming little book called Poesías de Nezahualcóyotl con semblanza biográfica –(Poetry of Nezahualcóyotl with a few words on his life)  The semblanza biográfica is by Abraham Camacho López as are the translations of the poems attributed to Netzahuacóyotl  from Nahuatl to Spanish.    (I will continue spelling it Netzahualcóyotl out of respect for our local bus company.)  There is some scholarly questioning of whether the poems were actually written by Netzahualcóyotl.  I think this doubt is not quite warranted.  As  Camacho López indicates at the end of this piece, there are reasons to think he did.  In addition to Camacho’s reasons, I would add that oral societies managed to transmit without alphabets as we know them a great deal of their learning, history (as they wanted it remembered) and culturally important beliefs, knowledge and mythology.  To decide whether or not it is worthwhile to track down exact authorship of actual words is also a cultural judgment.

One Comment leave one →
  1. buddenbooks permalink
    11 November 2009 7:22 am

    Thanks again for the plug! At this point, I am wandering around amidst translations of the poem and have decided it would be chutzpah indeed to try my own. I am thinking to post some different ones of the same poems.

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