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AMERICA IS HARD TO SEE, by         Recitation         Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Columbus may have worked the wind
Last Line: As cortez on the aztecs made
Subject(s): Columbus, Christopher (1451-1506); Explorers; Exploring; Discovery; Discoverers

Columbus may have worked the wind
A new and better way to Ind
And also proved the world a ball.
But how about the wherewithal?
Not just for scientific news
Had the Queen backed him to a cruise.
Remember he had made the test
Finding the East by sailing West.
But had he found it? Here he was
Without one trinket from Onnuz
To save the Queen from family censure
For her investment in his venture.
There had been something strangely wrong
With every coast he tried along.
He could imagine nothing barrener.
The trouble was with him the mariner.
He wasn't off a mere degree;
His reckoning was off a sea.
And to intensify the drama
Another mariner, Da Gama,
Came just then sailing into port
From the same general resort,
And with the gold in hand to show for
His claim it was another Ophir.

Had but Columbus known enough
He might have boldly made the bluff
That better than Da Gama's gold
He had been given to behold
The race's future trial place,
A fresh start for the human race.
He might have fooled Valladolid.
I was deceived by what he did.
If I had had my chance when young
I should have had Columbus sung
As a god who had given us
A more than Moses' exodus.
But all he did was spread the room
Of our enacting out the doom
Of being in each other's way.
And so put off the weaiy day
When we would have to put our mind
On how to crowd but still be kind.
For these none too apparent gains
He got no more than dungeon chains
And such small posthumous renown
(A country named for him, a town,
A holiday) as where he is
He may not recognize for his.
They say his flagship's unlaid ghost
Still probes and dents our rocky coast

With animus approaching hate.
And for not turning out a strait,
He has cursed every river mouth
From fifty North to fifty South.
Some day our navy, I predict,
Will take in tow this derelict
And lock him through Culebra Cut,
His eyes as good (or bad) as shut
To all the modern works of man
And all we call American.
America is hard to see.
Less partial witnesses than he
In book on book have testified
They could not see it from outside -
Or inside either for that matter.
We know the literary chatter.
Columbus, as I say, will miss
All he owes to the artifice
Of tractor-plow and motor-drill.
To naught but his own force of will.
Or at most some Andean quake.
Will he ascribe this lucky break.
High purpose makes the hero rude;
He will not stop for gratitude.
But let him show his haughty stem
To what was never his concern

Except as it denied him way
To fortune-hunting in Cathay.
He will be starting pretty late.
Hell find that Asiatic state
Is about tired of being looted
While having its beliefs disputed.
His can be no such easy raid
As Cortez on the Aztecs made.

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