The Mystery Of Columbus Poem by Paul Hartal

The Mystery Of Columbus

It was a Wednesday,
the third day of August in 1492,
when Christopher Columbus set sail
from the Iberian port of Palos.
His boat, the Santa Maria, accompanied by 2 other ships,
the Pinta and the Nina, were flying the Spanish flag.

Columbus was a widower.
His wife, Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, died in 1484,
after 5 years of marriage. Embarking on the boat,
he left behind his son at the care of his mistress.

Columbus prepared for a long time for the voyage.
He came up with a daring travel plan
based on the idea that the Earth was a sphere.
Instead of sailing eastwards, he decided to go
westwards for finding a sea passage to India.

After a voyage of more than two months
the small fleet crossed the Atlantic Ocean
and arrived in the unknown islands of the Bahamas,
off the coast of Florida.
In the night of October 12, at 2 A. M.,
illuminated by moonlight, Columbus sighted an island
which he named San Salvador.
The navigator believed that he was sailing
through the Indies, near Japan or China;
and that the native inhabitants
he met there were Asian Indians.

By the end of October he reached Cuba,
and then he continued to sail to Hispaniola.
On Christmas eve his boat, the Santa Maria
became wrecked on a reef at Haiti.

On January 16,1493, Columbus started his journey
back to Spain, travelling on the Nina.
He also took with him several captured Indians.
It was a raugh voyage. Near the Azores the Nina
was separated in a storm from the Pinta and almost
sank. Columbus decided to take shelter
in Lisbon, Portugal. He reached the home port
of Palos only on March 15.

Riding on horseback across Spain, Columbus received
a triumphant reception. He reported his discoveries
to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella at Barcelona.
The royal couple conferred on Columbus the title of
'Viceroy of the Indies' and ordered him
to organize a second expedition.

Sailing from Cadiz on September 25,1493,
Admiral Columbus commanded now an impressive fleet
comprising 17 ships and carrying 1000 colonists.
They crossed the ocean at remarkable speed,
in 21 days. The fleet passed Dominica, Puerto Rico
Antigua and other islands. At Hispaniola,
Columbus founded the colony Isabela and appointed
his brother Diego to be in charge. During the summer
of 1494 Columbus explored the coast of Cuba
and discovered Jamaica.

When he returned to Isabela he found upheaval.
The colonists were engaged in fighting
among themselves as well as with the Indians.
The admiral restored order and by June 1496
he was back in Spain.

And then came the third voyage of 1498,
during which Columbus' fleet reached Trinidad
and Venezuela. However, mutiny was in the air.
The Admiral's greedy colonists started to make
trouble. They complained about
the strange local Indian food
and the scarcity of gold. Eventually a revolt
broke against him and in 1499 Columbus
was sent back to Spain in chains, for trial.
Yet upon arrival he was released
by order of the king and the queen.

In the spring of 1502 the explorer set sail
for his fourth and last voyage.
His purpose was to discover a passage
to the Indian Ocean between Cuba and the lands
he already discovered.

But things were not going well.
Hostilities broke out with the native Indians,
Columbus' ships were leaking and he was marooned
for a year at the coast of the large island
of Jamaica.

Suffering from arthritis and disillusioned,
in the summer of 1504 the Admiral sailed from Jamaica
to Iberia with 100 survivors, out of the 135 sailors
who had left Spain with him. It was a long journey.
Finally Columbus landed in Sanlucar, Spain,
on November 7,1504.

Yet fame and glory did not provide him
solid health and long life. His health deteriorating
he spent the greater part of the day lying in bed.
He died in Valladolid on May 20,1506,
at the age of 54, or perhaps 55.

Exploring America under Spanish flag,
Christopher Columbus opened up the continent
for European colonization.

But who was this pathfinding great seaman
and navigator?
There is some evidence supporting the theory
that prior to 1492 Columbus was a Catalan pirate.
Speculations about his life and ethnic origin abound.

Historians usually describe him
as Italian explorer hailing from Genoa,
the capital of an independent Italian republic
at that time. The exact day of his birth is unknown.
He was probably born sometime between August 25
and October 31, in the year of 1451.

There seems to be cogent ground to support
the hypothesis that Columbus was an Iberian Crypto-Jew,
hiding his true identity from the inquisitive eyes of the Inquisition.
In Spain he is known as Cristobal Colon and his surname
was not uncommon in the Middle Ages among Jews.

Another fact emerging as evidence concerns
the letters and logs of the navigator.
Examining those documents, historians found
that Columbus incorporated Hebrew letters
and words into his Spanish writings.
Furthermore, he referenced the Jewish High Holidays
in his journal during his first Atlantic crossing.

Yet Columbus remains an enigmatic man.
His origin and ancestry are shrouded in mystery.
Some suggests that his real name was
Salvador Fernandez Zarco
and he was a Knights Templar.
The sails of his ship, the Santa Maria,
had been adorned with the crosses
of the Templars.

Interestingly enough,
on March 10,2009, The Daily Telegraph
in Britain reported that Columbus' surname
was Scotto and he was of Scottish

No, says Professor Manuel de Silva Rosa.
Columbus was born in Portuguese Madeira,
the son of exiled Polish King Wladyslaw III Jagiello
and his wife Senhorinha Annes.

Yet this claim is also contradicted
by other hypotheses asserting, for example,
that the intrepid explorer originated
from Scandinavia and was a Norwegian.

Paul T P Burne 10 October 2020

Interesting but also upsetting to think how they feel out over food and then the lack of gold, portraying their greed, man's greed even back then. As for Columbus does it really matter where he was born, he was a great sailor and explorer.

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Kim Barney 09 October 2020

Fascinating stuff, Paul. Thank you!

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