The Birth of a Nation
PublishedJuly 16, 2012 CategoryBertie’s Book of Improbable Sheep

The Birth of a Nation

In 1492, they say,
Columbus sailed towards Cathay,
But being somewhat soft of head
He found America instead,
A land – I’d like to make explicit –
Too big for even Chris to miss it,
And cause of some relief despite
His turning left instead of right.

So, anchoring beside the shore,
Columbus went off to explore,
No doubt thinking – I would fancy –
That he was somewhere up the Yangtse.

But back on board the boat, I’m told,
Were left in the deserted hold
A cow, a chicken and a sheep,
Which Ancient Mariners would keep
To supplement their meager ration,
Before the deep-freeze came in fashion.
This was, of course, before the days
Of Ready-Mix and Take Aways.

The sheep, the chicken and the cow
Were feeling not-too-well by now,
What between Columbus’ driving
And their prospects of surviving;
And felt they’d rather risk a rumpus
Than Christopher’s eccentric compass
And his tendency to steer
The wrong way round the hemisphere.

And so the sheep and cow and hen
Never went to sea again;
And when Columbus sailed away
Deprived him of his supper-tray;
And, settling for their novel station,
Became the Founders of a Nation.

The history books have never said it –
The Pilgrim Fathers got the credit –
But, I would like the world to know,
The turkey and the buffalo
Were just a natural survival
From this earlier arrival;
Their very gobble, groan and wheeze
Clearly Hispano-Portuguese.

And, as for what befell the sheep,
No need to lose a lot of sleep,
Trying to trace the mixed-up line
Of this ancestor of mine.
He headed sou-sou-west and through
The continent to found Peru;
And, finding that the air was calmer,
Happily became a llama.



( from  ‘Bertie and the Younger Set’ )