Columbus "He Gained A World"
by Joaquin Miller

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"He Gained A World"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: In this brief poem Miller condenses the account of Columbus' crossing of the Atlantic. We are given bits of dialogue between Columbus and his first mate, who serves as spokesman for the crew. These short exchanges occur at intervals of many days; and each complaint of the mate, as they sail farther and farther away from Europe, reveals the increasing despair of the crew and their intense desire to turn back. Only Columbus' courage and determination keep the expedition on its course and enable him to make the first step toward the founding of America. The moral for Americans is that great worlds of attainment can be theirs if they will persevere bravely in their highest endeavors.

Then pale and worn, he paced his deck,And peered through darkness.Ah, that nightOf all dark nights! And then a speck‚ÄďA light! A light! At last a light!It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!It grew to be Time's burst of dawn.He gained a world; he gave that worldIts grandest lesson: "On! sail on!"