Inscribe Our Names

David Bowles
5 min readJun 12, 2024

The twentieth cuicatl in Songs of the Lords of Anahuac, my English translation of the codex Romances de los señores de la Nueva España. It also appears in less corrupted form in the other poetry codex, Songs of Mexico (Cantares mexicanos) as song 73, where it is labeled a yaocuicatl or “war song.”

I begin my song.
I intone that
which is the hymn
of the Giver of Life.¹

The Enemy of Both Sides²
offers melodies for holy days:
The Self-Made One³
is coming, you princes —
Let all borrow blooms
from the funeral tree!⁴

How shall I act for him there?
Let it be with flowers,
let me go girded with them.
I shall fly away —
I suffer, so I weep.

Briefly at your side,
Giver of Life.
It is true that you inscribe
our names on the battlefield.⁵
You show us pity there
upon the slippery Earth.

Covered with myriad tree leaves
stands your drum, Giver of Life!
It is burgeoning with blossoms
that princes use to please you.
It is certainly so in such a place
as the courtyard of verse.⁶



David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. President of the Texas Institute of Letters.