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Ancient American Poets Paperback – April 1, 2005

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Curl is a respected poet and author of historical works who has published fiction, poetry, essays, and history in numerous magazines and periodicals during the last three decades. He is a board member of PEN USA West and PEN Oakland and has also hosted a weekly radio show.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Bilingual Review Pr (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931010218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931010214
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,916,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This important work resurrects the voices of a people that most of us have never heard before. The inner lives of the Inca, Maya, and Aztec are revealed in artfully translated poems, with original language for comparison on opposing pages. The author includes historical context and pronunciation guides for those who are interested in learning more about the authors of these poems (and after reading these poems, I promise you will want to learn more).
My favorite section was the Nahua (Aztec) poetry of Nezahualcoyotl. If your concept of the Aztec people is that of an advanced yet bloodthirsty and militaristic race, you will be in for a surprise. The poetry of the Hungry Coyote is deeply spiritual and filled with the metaphor of flowers. I would go so far as to compare the lovely, lyric verses to something out of the Psalms--plumbing the depths of pain and then soaring to wild praise of the "Life Giver." There are some words that apparently do not translate into the English, these are left in the poems to provide the reader with a sense of sound and rhythm.
I will give you a small part of a poem:

Only a brief instant will it be thus: for a very brief time you are lent your flowers. Already they are carried to their house, to the Bodiless Place, which is also your house. Is this not so? With this knowledge, our sadness and bitterness perish. Ohuaya ohuaya.

You will not regret the purchase of this book.
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Format: Paperback
I got this book for its Maya poetry, and I have not been disappointed. There are love poems, prophetic poems, poems to test the nobility and make sure they've had the proper education, and so forth. The variety of poetry here is reassuring; I have read the books of Chilam Balam in the past, and the Popul Vuh, but I have not read Mayan love poems before. There is an introduction to this section which discusses the original manuscript and ancient Mayan books in general and the Yucatec Mayan language specifically. There is a lengthy discussion about the author of these Mayan poems, and some speculation about who he might have been and what position he might have held in society.

The poems in this section are a delight to read. They cover many topics, from wedding poems to poetry for recapturing wayward lovers to poems for travelers to songs to celebrate the Mayan calendar. This is a good beginner's introduction to the Maya on the one hand and will also fill in gaps for all you specialists out there who have read extensively among the Mayan works and are looking for new works in your repertoire. I recommend this book highly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very well documented, written with mastery
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