Columbus Day Poem – IN 1492, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue

Columbus Day is coming up in the United States on October 13th. It celebrates when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas on October 12th, 1492.

Here is the most popular Columbus Day poem in the US. It’s used to help teach the history of Columbus.

IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But “India” the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he’d been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

If you would like to share any Columbus Day songs or poems, please feel free to post them in the comments below!

Many thanks to Monique at Mama Lisa’s World en français for sending me this poem.

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2008 at 9:59 am and is filed under Children's Songs, Columbus Day, Countries & Cultures, English, Holiday Poems, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Poetry, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

60 Responses to “Columbus Day Poem – IN 1492, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue”

  1. john Says:

    I’d heard one more along the lines of (not sure how accurate, I’m not from the US, and know very little about Columbus, except that he was a good detective):

    In fourteen hundred and ninety-two,
    Columbus sailed the ocean blue

    In fourteen hundred and ninety-three,
    Columbus sailed the deep blue sea

    In fourteen hundred and ninety-four,
    Columbus was at death’s dark door. [I assume this is a reference to an illness he recovered from – perhaps the disease that wiped out many of the settlers]

    In fourteen hundred and ninety-five,
    Columbus was once more alive.

  2. P Wright Says:

    For those of you who don’t accept that Columbus was not the “hero” we were all raised to think he was… Consider this: It isn’t that you should not teach that Columbus DID sail across the Atlantic, and run into land mistakenly thinking he’d reached India, it is that his treatment of the Taino natives was not benign nor heroic. He also did not “discover” a land that was his to claim for Spain, because it was already inhabited. He was the beginning of the onslaught of the European invasion of the Western Hemisphere, and for life as we knew it. Now, more than 500 years later, what we object to is the glossing-over of the truth about how it was achieved, between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples. I, myself, grew up with the telling and re-telling of a massacre by whites against a sleeping village where about 200 native people were murdered, including old people and children and infants. Their heads were smashed by clubs and axes. This was my bedtime story told by my mother, and it happened in Humboldt County, California, in Feb. 1860. She grew up with her great-grandmother, who was a survivor of that massacre. That truth is not told nor taught in schools. That is our complaint, that the truth is not told. Not about broken treaties, nor the Trail of Tears (there was more than one, you know… several in California, in fact.) nor the acts of genocide, nor the fact that native people were also enslaved. That same great-grandmother was an “indentured servant” since she was a child when she lost her family in the massacre, and she was placed in a home to be a servant, until she was 18.

    The Constitution, under the Commerce clause, recognizes native people as legitimate separate nations, that would negotiate treaties. Every once in a while, cases make it to the Supreme Court, and we actually win one, because the United States made treaties with Native Nations a century or more ago. Today, we theoretically are considered “Sovereign Nations,” but we are still at the whim of Congress. In spite of treaties, our lands continued to be opened to settlers, and laws were passed that made sure we had no rights. In 1924 we actually became U.S. citizens, but it was not until 1957 that all states actually gave us the right to vote. Then, I should mention the government boarding schools. My husband was taken from his family in 1944, and he and his siblings were put into a government school where he was beaten for speaking his native language. He was never able to relearn it. At age 82, he still occasionally has nightmares, thinking he is still in that school in Nevada.

    These are all truths. Not everything happened more than a hundred years ago… Some of it happened and is happening to our people who are alive right now. History cannot be undone, but it would be really decent if these truths were acknowledged. We are working hard to deal with the historical and familial trauma that has resulted from these facts. We are teaching our children to be proud of their heritage. But continuing to teach your children these fairy tales like the 1492 poem and how the nice pilgrims were so nice to the Indians is a disservice to them. Fairy tales, all of it.

  3. Bonnie Says:

    Has anyone heard this one? My ninety two year old mother wants to know…

    Columbus discovered America in 1492 -and I discovered a damn good friend when I discovered you !

  4. woofle Says:

    Hey um Do you have a poem exposing the racist and inumane things he did to the savages?

  5. Colin Says:

    In fourteen hundred and ninety two
    Columbus sailed the ocean blue
    In the Nina, the Pinto and and the Santa Maria
    … … that’s all folks
    Mum sang it to us in the 1950’s and its stuck thus far

  6. big greg Says:

    i like fairy tales. historically this country has offered freedom and a chance for all. it has been an evolutionary process for the betterment of all . not shure where we are right now. thats what i believe.

  7. Julie Says:

    There is so much misinformation about Christopher Columbus. Columbus did not mistreat any of the people he met in The Bahamas. He wrote back to Queen Isabella about how much he admired them. Also, why is it never mentioned how the American Indians treated others? They enslaved and slaughtered as well. Columbus was nearly as brave to cross the Atlantic Ocean without using land masses as the astronauts, Armstrong and Aldrin, who were the first to walk on the moon.

  8. Brian Says:

    In response to Julie’s comments of 3/26/22, I think she (and everybody) should read Columbus’ diaries from his four voyages and other contemporaneous accounts of his voyages. They are readily available on-line. Columbus wrote a detailed plan for the enslavement of all native peoples he encountered in the so-called New World. He kidnapped several natives and sent them back to Spain to the Queen saying they can be readily trained as servants and if they present any problems they can be killed because there are a lot of natives that can be made to replace them. In fact, Columbus’ treatment of the natives was so brutal he was recalled as Governor of the so-called New World and arrested for his brutality and that of his men. The Queen wanted the natives converted to Catholicism and was of the opinion that this would be harder to do if they were treated so brutally. Unfortunately the new governor was more brutal than Columbus. It is estimated that between 8 and 12 million natives were killed by the Spanish explorers or died as a result of the diseases they brought.

  9. Seth Says:

    This song is not something I’d want folks to continue singing. As Brian said, Columbus mistreated the Taino people. Read the atrocities of his voyage. Stop celebrating it as a “discovery” day. We (the Indigenous of these lands) were here first. Please stop spreading outright lies and deceptive colonized thinking.

  10. Hebie Says:

    Lets be honest. Brutality, aggressiveness, slavery, they have always been and probably always will be. Slavery still exists in multiple forms and probably always will. There will always be those that are passive and peaceful (vulnerable) and those that are aggressive and seek power. I marvel that humanity has survived. Most modern invention has come about to be used as tools of war. Cars, boats, airplanes all exist because they were useful for waging war.
    Ok, lets be more positive. I’ll ask the questions. How do we as a species move forward? How do we overcome the lies and resulting animosity? How do we teach our children (our collective future) to be loving well adjusted adults? Without making them vulnerable to the personality traits that seek dominance? These are the things we should be pondering. Finding answers to these questions is IMHO more important than poetry about Columbus, or taking umbrage with that poetry.

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