Flower and Song: Poems of the Aztec Peoples


Shake the flower,
root out song
in your house, Ipalnemoani,
Master of Herons.
? Rejoice!

Perhaps ...

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Shake the flower,
root out song
in your house, Ipalnemoani,
Master of Herons.
— Rejoice!

Perhaps with words
you will be pierced, broken
to understand,
Prince Warriors:
earth is all over with.
— Rejoice!

The brilliant Aztec poetic tradition would have all but vanished after the Spanish Conquest in 1521 without the friars who painstakingly transcribed and preserved the poems in the years that followed.

In this new edition of their translations, Edward Kissam and Michael Schmidt—two poets who spent formative years in Mexico—give us powerful echoes of the lyrical and philosophical songs; the songs of rejoicing, sorrow, ritual, and war; the laments made by Nezahualpilli and others as the end of their empire approached; and the epics of myth and legend.

Their introduction is a distilled account of the background to the Aztec empire, its way of life, and its fall, including the role of poetry in Aztec life and how the poems were preserved.

Michael Schmidt, poet, scholar, critic, and translator, is the founder-director of Carcanet Press and PN Review. He studied at Harvard University and Wadham College, Oxford, before settling in England. He lives in Manchester.

Edward Kissam studied at Princeton University and Magdalen College, Oxford. He works at JBS International on a variety of applied research issues related to education in developing countries. He is the author (with David Griffith) of Working Poor: Farmworkers in the United States. He lives in Oakland, California.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780856464232
  • Publisher: Anvil Press Poetry, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Kissam: Edward Kissam, born in Florida in 1943, spent his formative years in Mexico. He studied at Princeton and at Magdalen College, Oxford, before returning to graduate studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His collections of poems are The Sham Flyers (1969) and Jerusalem and The People (1972). He is currently a Senior Principal at JBS International where he works on a wide range of applied research issues related to education in developing countries, Mexico-US immigration and immigrants’ social and civic integration into U.S. society. He is the author (with David Griffith) of Working Poor: Farmworkers in the United States.

Michael Schmidt: Michael Schmidt was born in Mexico in 1947. He studied at Harvard and at Wadham College, Oxford. He is Professor of Poetry at Glasgow University, where he is convenor of the Creative Writing Programme. He is a founder (1969) and editorial and managing director of Carcanet Press Limited, and a founder (1972) and general editor of the poetry magazine PN Review. An anthologist, translator, critic and literary historian, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and received an OBE in 2006 for services to poetry. His Collected Poems appeared in 2009. He has published two critical-biographical studies, Lives of the Poets (1998) and Lives of the Ancient Poets: The Greeks (2004).

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