All the earth is a grave

17 11 2010

All the earth is a grave and nothing escapes it, nothing is so perfect that it does not descend to its tomb. Rivers, rivulets, fountains and waters flow, but never return to their joyful beginnings; anxiously they hasten on the vast realms of the rain god. As they widen their banks, they also fashion the sad urn of their burial.

Filled are the bowels of the earth with pestilential dust once flesh and bone, once animate bodies of man who sat upon thrones, decided cases, presided in council, commanded armies, conquered provinces, possessed treasure, destroyed temples, exulted in their pride, majesty, fortune, praise and power. Vanished are these glories, just as the fearful smoke vanishes that belches forth from the infernal fires of Popocatepetl. Nothing recalls them but the written page.

-Nezahualcoyotl, King of Texcoco, found on this site



3 responses

18 11 2010

This reminds me of Marcus Aurelius, another philosopher king

17 11 2010

Beautiful. Nezahualcoyotl reminds us that the Pax of great empires never lasts forever. Even the United States will one day fall and fail to exist as we know it. What will our entrails and potsherds resemble?

Nezahualcoyotl also understands the very illness that initiates the decline of great cultures: an unyielding conviction that the (economic, military, social, ritual) hegemony of an extremely powerful nation cannot and will not collapse. This delusion rests on the distorted perception that “the world” has indelibly conformed to the mores of a supposedly dominant power.

17 11 2010
Le Panda du Mal

Thanks for this. Another favourite of mine:

“”I crave flowers that will not perish in my hands!/ Where might I find lovely flowers, lovely songs?/ Such as I seek, spring does not produce on earth.” – Cuacuauhtzin

(I found this in Miguel Leon-Portilla’s “Aztec Thought and Culture.”)

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