'Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two': The Columbus Poem Rewritten
The following poem, a new version of a rhyme all of us are all-too-familiar with, was submitted by reader Dana W. Hall, and on the 520th anniversary of its title we're inclined to share it:
Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two (The Rewrite)
In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
But everything else in the childhood rhyme,
Ignores the historic details and genocide.
The overland route between Asia and Spain,
Was closed making trade very hard to maintain.
But Oriental goods were in high demand,
A new route would allow this exchange to expand.
Aristotle had proved that the world was round,
You could reach eastern Asia by sailing westbound.
The Ancient Greeks calculated the length of the trip,
Far exceeding the range of the most modern ship.
Columbus made absurd and outrageous guarantees,
About his nautical calculations and skills at Sea.
But despite reservations expressed by the King,
He was given three ships outfitted by the Queen.
He set sail in August of 1492,
his Log Book describes what he planned to do.
To take wealth and riches wherever they were found,
His thievery would become historically profound.
Columbus reached Islands in the Caribbean Sea,
Not even close to where he thought he should be.
He said there was gold and made other false claims,
To gain the support for more voyages from Spain.
Columbus described the Natives as being,
Generous, hospitable, and very agreeing.
Not quarrelsome, excitable -- devoid of hate,
He exclaimed they’d be easy to dominate.
He made several voyages to the Caribbean Sea,
Visited the mainland where he thought Asia should be.
He colonized the region and controlled everything,
Destroying the culture and lives of every human being.
He appointed himself Governor; no one disagreed,
Extermination of the Natives could then proceed.
Their homes and lands were taken by force,
Those not killed were enslaved without remorse.
He created a “tribute system” very tragic to behold,
Intended to fulfill Spain’s unending lust for gold.
Requiring a quota from every Native over fourteen,
Or their hands were cut off, death became quite routine.
Natives were raped at will and many used as slaves,
The rest were exterminated, in a variety of ways.
By burning, hanging, cut in pieces or in half,
Babies swung by the feet and their skulls were smashed.
He initiated the conquest and genocide,
During his expeditions, 9 million people died.
Following the "Civilization" of the Western Hemisphere,
100 million vanished as a result of European profiteers.
Columbus didn’t keep the promises made to the Crown,
And a sea route to Asia, he never found.
He could not deliver on his guarantees of Gold,
But colonization of the Americas began to unfold
© 2007 Dana W. Hall, All Rights Reserved