Ogden Nash

(August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971 / New York / United States)

Columbus


Once upon a time there was an Italian,
And some people thought he was a rapscallion,
But he wasn't offended,
Because other people thought he was splendid,
And he said the world was round,
And everybody made an uncomplimentary sound,
But he went and tried to borrow some money from Ferdinand
But Ferdinand said America was a bird in the bush and he'd rather have a berdinand,
But Columbus' brain was fertile, it wasn't arid,
And he remembered that Ferdinand was married,
And he thought, there is no wife like a misunderstood one,
Because if her husband thinks something is a terrible idea she is bound to think it a good one,
So he perfumed his handkerchief with bay rum and citronella,
And he went to see Isabella,
And he looked wonderful but he had never felt sillier,
And she said, I can't place the face but the aroma is familiar,
And Columbus didn't say a word,
All he said was, I am Columbus, the fifteenth-century Admiral Byrd,
And, just as he thought, her disposition was very malleable,
And she said, Here are my jewels, and she wasn't penurious like Cornelia the mother of the Gracchi, she wasn't referring to her children, no, she was referring to her jewels, which were very very valuable,
So Columbus said, Somebody show me the sunset and somebody did and he set sail for it,
And he discovered America and they put him in jail for it,
And the fetters gave him welts,
And they named America after somebody else,
So the sad fate of Columbus ought to be pointed out to every child and every voter,
Because it has a very important moral, which is, Don't be a discoverer, be a promoter.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Columbus by Ogden Nash )

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  • John Tatum (8/21/2013 11:22:00 PM)

    Nice humor...and use of timing and rhythm...to accentuate it. I like story/poems. (Report) Reply

  • Dan Holmes (11/19/2012 12:18:00 AM)

    Obviously, this is written from the perspective of popular American folklore and not from history proper. To read it otherwise would be to miss the point of this amusing poem. (Report) Reply

  • Tai Chi Italy (10/29/2009 5:35:00 PM)

    Amen! And thank you for being a 'Dead poet who reads Tai Chi Italy!

    Smiling at the morale of the story!

    Tai (Report) Reply

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