English Narration Text for “The Tree of Life”

Pirámide de los nichos, El Tajin (Diego Rivera)

Pirámide de los nichos, El Tajin (Diego Rivera)

Now on my flute of gold I play:
Like gold resounding
Sounds my song.

The day is dawning;
The sun is rising.
Soon descending
The red birds will come
To suck the nectar of living flowers.
On earth at the sacred tree you stand:
You, feathered serpent, you are Lord!

Do not be sad, oh my friends!
No one has a home on this earth:
No one will remain here.
We must leave our treasures – our Song.
We must leave them here on earth.
Though you deck yourself in jade & feathers,
You have only borrowed them:
You will not wear them in the House of the Dead.

Oh my friends, do they die in vain,
Those Flowers of Life,
The Flowers of Red Nectar?
Do I not fear it in my heart?
Will I not go at the end
To the Land Of Mystery?
Leave the earth and go there,
There where the Tree Of Life is standing?
Will my Songs and my Flowers
Adorn the Land of Mystery?

In the Land of Rain and Fog,
Where turquoise water flowers bloom,
I am the child of the One God:
I am His creation.

The Tree of Life grows in the Land Of Mystery.
There we were created –
There we were born.
There He by whom all things live
Spins the thread of our lives.

In God’s presence I shall fly:
Like the Guacamaya I will open my wings.
Like the golden Zacuan,
Like the precious Quetzal,
Like a fluttering butterfly, trembling,
I hang suspended before His eyes.
Then through rain flowers I go my way,
To the sound of flutes.
We have only come to borrow
Your flowered drum,
Your flute,
Your song.
They are your flowers, oh God!

You have become the Tree of Life:
Dying, you have been born again.
Swaying, you spread your branches
And stand before the Giver of all life.
In your boughs our home shall be.
We will be your Flowers.

Here, where the Tree Of Life is standing,
Here, in the place of drums and flutes,
Come, Precious Birds, black and golden,
Come, Precious Birds, red and blue,
Come, Turquoise Quetzal, Feathered Serpent:
Sip the nectar of our hearts and sing for joy.

In the branches of the Tree of Life
The blessed Red Birds sing joyously.
Listen!
Our God is calling us.
Hear him!
His Sacred Birds are calling.

Now the Butterfly comes
Now He comes flying.
With His wings He seeks the Flowers;
With His tongue He sucks their Nectar.
His heart opens for joy:
It is a Flower!

Now at last my heart is happy:
I hear a Song,
I see a Flower,
That will not fail,
That will not fade.

These texts are translated, with some adaptations, from Poesia Nahuatl, by Angel Maria Garibay Kintana, UNAM, Mexico City, 1964-8, in 3 volumes.

For a complete interpretation of the symbolism used in the poems, the reader is referred to Prof. Garibay’s works. A glossary of some terms follows:

Land of Mystery – Tlalocan, Tamoanchan, Mictlan; the var ious abodes of the soul after death.
Land of Rain & Fog – Probably Tlalocan.
Flowers – Human hearts, offerings to the gods. Thus the Tonal (soul) of the person who voluntarily accepts his role as a sacrifice.
Nectar – Human blood
Butterfly – The Sun
Birds – Messengers (angels) of the Sun: warriors who have been reincarnated after sacrifice in battle or on the altar.

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