Columbus Day: Often-ignored holiday

What did Christopher Columbus really discover?
Did Christopher Columbus really discover America? Or did he bump into another land mass in his attempt to find a shorter route to China?

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two,
Someone sailed the ocean blue.
Somebody borrowed the fare in Spain
For a business trip on the bounding main,
And to prove to the people, by actual test,
You could get to the East by sailing West.
Somebody said, Sail on! Sail on!
And studied China and China’s lingo,
And cried from the bow, There’s China now!
And promptly bumped into San Domingo.
Somebody murmured, Oh dear, oh dear!
I’ve discovered the Western Hemisphere.

Ogden Nash’s long, rambling poem, “Look What You Did, Christopher,” comes immediately to mind when those who may or may not celebrate the often-forgotten federal holiday for Christoper Columbus, the Italian who talked the queen of Spain into financing an ocean trip to find a quick route to China but, instead, may or may not have discovered the land mass now called America.

And that, you may think, my friends, was that.
But it wasn’t. Not by a fireman’s hat.
Christopher C. was the cornerstone,
And well enough wasn’t left alone.
For those who followed
When he was through,
They burned to discover something, too.
Somebody, bored with rural scenery,
Went to work and invented machinery,
While a couple of other mental giants
Got together
And thought up Science.

Floyd County offices are closed on this holiday Monday.  So are local bank branches.  Most offices remain open, as do retail outlets.  County public schools are open.  The school board meets Monday afternoon as well.

O misery, misery, mumble and moan!
Someone invented the telephone,
And interrupted a nation’s slumbers,
Ringing wrong but similar numbers.

Have the day off?  Enjoy it. You may be in the minority.

Oh, Columbus was only a cornerstone,
And well enough wasn’t left alone,
For the Inquisition was less tyrannical
Than the iron rules of an age mechanical,
Which, because of an error in ’92,
Are clamped like corsets on me and you,
While Children of Nature we’d be today
If San Domingo
Had been Cathay.

(Verses from “Look What You Did, Christopher,” by Ogden Nash (1902-1971)


© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse