Teotihuacan MexicoThe universe was clearly speaking to me today when an ancient Aztec poem found its way to my desk. This time I listened, and took a few moments to think on the impermanence of existence.

We’re heading to Mexico soon and I’ll be saying goodbye to my students, my home, and the life that I have grown accustomed to. It’s one of the hardest and most exciting things I’ve ever had to do.

This Nahuatal poem helped me accept and understand that all things must change.

“Nahuatal,” simply means the language of the Aztec, a people who dominated the central Mexican basin from the 1300-1500’s CE. Enjoy the Nahuatal poem below, and my photographs from Teotihuacan, the very heart of the ancient Nahuatal people.

Teotihuacan Pyramid

The fleeting pomps of the world are like the green willow trees, which aspiring to permanence, are consumed by a fire, fall before axe, are upturned by the wind, or are scarred and saddened by age.

Teotihuacan Frescos

The grandeurs of life are like the flowers in color and in fate; the beauty of these remains so long as their chaste buds gather and store the rich pearls of the dawn and saving it, drop it in liquid dew;

but scarcely has the Cause of All directed upon them the full rays of the sun, when their beauty and glory fail, and the brilliant gay colors which decked forth their pride whither and fade.

Teotihuacan Carvings

The delicious realms of flowers count their dynasties by short periods; those which in the morning revel proudly in beauty and strength, by evening weep for the sad destruction of their thrones, and for the misshaps which drive them to loss, to poverty, to death and to the grave.

All things of earth have an end, and in the midst of the most joyous lives, the breath falters, they fall, and sink into the ground.

Teotihuacan Jade

All the earth is a grave, and nought escapes it; nothing is so perfect that it does not fall and disappear. The rivers, brooks, fountains and waters flow on, and never return to their joyous beginnings;

they hasten on to the vast realms of Taloc, and the wider they spread between their borders the more rapidly do they mold their own gloomy urns.

Teotihuacan Statue

That which is yesterday is not today; and let not that which is today trust to live tomorrow.


Source: Ancient Nahuatal Poetry, by Daniel G. Brinton (1890)


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