Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Mayan Poem: The Song of the Minstrel

Let's party like it's!

A curious highlight to this holiday season is the impending end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. Alas, the Mayan calendar does not symbolize the end of times. It symbolizes the end of the calendar. Nothing more. One 144 000 day cycle ends and another 144 000 day cycle begins.

The following Mayan poem is from the concluding 13th bak'tun of the Mayan Long Count calendar. Let's hope that Mayan poetry flourishes in the new calendar beginning December 22, 2012.

The only Mayan poetry that survives today was first recorded in 1440 in the town of Dzitbalché. The Songs of Dzitbalché were later translated into Spanish by Alfredo Barrera Vásquez and it is these translations that serve as the source material for translations into English and other languages. The Song of the Minstrel is one of the surviving poems. A poem for the times.

The Song of the Minstrel

This day there is a feast in the villages.
Dawn streams over the horizon,
south north east west,
light comes to the earth, darkness is gone.
Roaches, crickets, fleas and moths
hurry home.

Magpies, white doves, swallows,
partridges, mockingbirds, thrushes, quail,
red and white birds rush about,
all the forest birds begin their song because
morning dew brings happiness.

The Beautiful Star
shines over the woods,
smoking as it sinks and vanishes;
the moon too dies
over the forest green.

Happiness of fiesta day has arrived
in the villages;
a new sun brings light
to all who live together here.


  1. There is a Mayan End of the Calendar party at the Sand Bar in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico on Friday December 21, 2012.

  2. Also notice how during the chorus you will likely hear the "hook" which is the part of the song you're likely to hum or catch onto first. Most songs are made or broken by their hooks so when it comes to building one make sure it stands out!