Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Arrival of Columbus

The Arrival of Columbus
Originally uploaded by John of Dublin.
This is my attempt to interpret the essence of one of my favourite short poems "The Caravels" written in about 1918.
It's such a simple yet powerfully descriptive poem from the viewpoint of a Native American. I love the man's shock and lack of understanding of how the huge ships are moving - only having been used to little canoes with paddles or oars. But in particular the line "His fallen hands forgetting all their shells" is what I focused on in the image. The forgotten shells of course are a physical symbol of the change about to take place from his old way of life. This is why the shells are emphasised a bit brighter and translucent to the sunlight. Also we are told Columbus landed in morning time - hence the low Sun from the east.
The seashore is not the West Indies but a shot I took in Donegal last year!
The Indian is me in silhouette - with a Halloween mask/wig! Taken indoors recently and added to original.
The shells were collected in Sandycove beach and added later with some computerised movement effects.
The three caravel images were found on the Internet and blended in.

The Caravels - by J. C. Squire

There was an Indian, who had known no change,
Who strayed content along a sunlit beach Gathering shells.
He heard a sudden strange Commingled noise: looked up; and gasped for speech.

For in the bay, where nothing was before,
Moved on the sea, by magic, huge canoes
With bellying cloths on poles, and not one oar,
And fluttering coloured signs and clambering crews.

And he, in fear, this naked man alone,
His fallen hands forgetting all their shells,
His lips gone pale, knelt low behind a stone,
And stared, and saw, and did not understand,
Columbus's doom-burdened caravels
Slant to the shore, and all their seaman land.


-Ann said...

Great poem and idea - I'd never heard of it before. I sometimes think how weird it would be if aliens just showed up one day. Now, reading that poem, I realise it would be a lot like Columbus was for the Indians.

John of Dublin said...

Thanks Ann. Yes, I agree with what you say. The Caravels describes the experience for the Indian very like as if advanced aliens landed to us today...he had no idea how the "huge canoes" were moving and he didn't understand the sails(bellying cloths on poles).

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi John:

Great site. I found it while searching for the date of JFK's visit to Ireland. You see, I visited Ireland in 1979, age 23 and I stayed in Dublin with this great elderly couple called the Timmons. I recall that the wife Maura, showed me a dress that she said she wore during JFK's visit to Ireland. I was 23 and not too much of a history buff back then... A few years ago when I visited the JFK Library in Boston, I thought I saw Maura, lead JFK through a Dublin crowd wearing that dress. I think Eugene Timmons was an acting? Lord Mayor of Dublin? Would you know of this? I cannot find any history on Eugene Timmons but I stayed with them for one month in Clontarf. I had the greatest time visiting your country.
Thanks, Marie