Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: “Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate:
“This mad sea shows his teeth to-night.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah, that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck—
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
– Joaquin Miller, 1892
By Ed Masters
The Essential Columbus
Cristoforo Columbo was the given name of the man known to the English-speaking world as ‘Christopher Columbus’ and to the Spanish world as ‘Cristobal Colon;’ his descendants living in Spain still carry this surname. He was born in the Republic of Genoa in 1451 (a scant two years before the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks) to Domenico Columbo, a middle class wool weaver and Susanna Fontanarossa.
While much has been written about Columbus over the last five centuries, he was by no means the first to step foot in the New World. American Indians had lived on the two continents and surrounding islands for thousands of years; the Vikings had landed in Canada; and the Irish under St. Brendan, the Carthaginians and the Phoenicians all more than likely brushed the shores of the Americas. (The Phoenicians actually had bigger and better ships than our intrepid Genoese.)
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