Friar Diego de Landa’s Poem a la Dr. Seuss


I am Xiu

Xiu I am

That Xiu I am,
that Xiu I am!
I do not like that Xiu I am

Do you like our Chilam Balam?

I do not like it, Xiu I am
I do not like your Chilam Balam

Would you like it here or there?

I would not like it here or there
I would not like it anywhere
I do not like your Chilam Balam
I do not like it, Xiu I am

Would you read it in a choza?
Or have it read you by a moza?

I would not read it in a choza
nor have it read me by a moza
I would not like it here or there
I would not like it anywhere
I do not like your Chilam Balam
I do not like it, Xiu I am

Would you read it in a cave?
In a cenote? With my slave?

I would not read it in a cave,
in a cenote or with your slave!

Would you read it, in Mani?
It’s all about us, don’t you see?

I would not read it, in Mani
it isn’t Catholic,
so it’s not for me!
I would not like it here or there
I don’t want to hear about it, anywhere.
I don’t want to read it in a cave
or a damp cenote and not with your slave!
I do not like the Chilam Balam
Be very careful, Xiu I am

Would you, could you,
take a chance?
It makes us happy; watch us dance!
Try to read it,
you’ll get quite far;
our culture, traditions,
it’s who we are!

I would not, could not
take a chance,
it’s sinful, pagan,
that you all dance.
Your scripts are evil;
you’ll go to hell!
But I can save you,
and make you well.
Just tell me where
is this Chilam Balam,
and I will save you,
Xiu I am!

Mani! Mani!
Mani! Mani!
Come read it,
read it,
and you will see!

I’ll come to see you,
Xiu I am
I’ll come to read
your Chilam Balam.
If you’ll come forward
and show your face
I’ll come to see you
and save your race

I see it now,
the Chilam Balam
I’m reading it, amazed
oh Xiu I am
But I really must tell you
that from what I can tell,
that you really are
going to burn in hell!
So to speed up the process
and to save all your souls,
I’m burning your books,
your idols, your bowls
and you must burn too,
Xiu, by the way
and for history’s sake
it’ll be an auto de fé.



1) The Chilam Balam, is one of several books of Mayan writings and does not necessarily coincide with the event in Mani. It is meant as a general reference to the Mayan culture

2) In 1561-62, Friar Diego de Landa, incensed that the Mayans were secretly worshiping their Mayan gods and idols all the while professing to be catholics, ordered all their writings, idols and anything he could find, to be burned in a huge bonfire in Mani.

“Among the many ‘bad guys’ in the history of sacred texts, the Friar Diego de Landa has to occupy a special circle in hell. In 1562, de Landa conducted an ‘Auto de fé’ in Maní where in addition to 5000 ‘idols,’ he burned 27 books in Maya writing. This one act deprived future generations of a huge body of Mayan literature. He culturally impoverished the descendants of the Mayas, and left only four codices for scholars to puzzle over.”


3) The Xiu were one of the areas Mayan families, the descendants of which are/were the genesis for the restaurant El Principe Tutul Xiu, in Mani.


3 thoughts on “Friar Diego de Landa’s Poem a la Dr. Seuss

  1. PS, I see you have a link to a description and translation of a book by Landa. I honestly do not know if this is the same book referred to in my comments, as the English translated title is not the same as the title in Spanish. Also worth noting, this additional detail from PBS:

    “Bishop Francisco de Toral finally stopped Landa’s inquisition and sent him back to Spain, where, in 1564, he was tried for his excesses. He was eventually absolved of any misdeeds. As he waited for his case to be resolved, Landa wrote Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, now considered an authority on Mayan customs and language. The book would not be published for another three hundred years, but in the 20th century, Landa’s work provided a valuable record and important clues for modern day scholars trying to decipher Mayan writing. After Toral’s death, Landa was sent back to the New World in 1573 and was ordained Bishop of the Yucatan, a position he held until his death at age 54.”

  2. Ironically, he did indeed come back and was appointed “Protector of the Indians” a position he surely did not deserve.

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