Amerigo Vespucci – What’s in a Name?

Portrait_of_Amerigo_Vespucci

By Officially unknown (poss. Cristofano dell’Altissimo) – Uffizi, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18157134

We owe Italy quite a lot really, don’t we?

Pizza, pasta, risotto, fine wine, passion, flair, fashion style, not to mention the Romans (and yes, what did they ever do for us?) to name but a few. These are things our lives would be far less rich without.

Well, some say it was around this day in history, May 10 or 11, when someone else Italian set sail on a voyage to what we now term ‘the New World’, namely Amerigo Vespucci.

Born in Florence in 1454, Vespucci is famous for debunking Columbus’ notion that the West Indies and Brazil were in fact the other side of the world, actually the easternmost parts of Asia.

In other words, he envisioned the new discoveries as a completely new, separate landmass from Asia. Originally termed the New World, what the new continent lacked was a proper name. Step up Amerigo Vespucci once again, whose latinised Christian name reads as ‘Americus’.

It was only a small step from there to someone suggesting that this huge piece of earth should be called after him, but with a feminine ending – America – and why not? Are we still grateful to him and Italy?

PS. Of course, we know now that the Vikings founded what they termed ‘Vinland’ in what is now the north eastern seaboard of North America centuries before Columbus, but that’s another story…

Advertisements

Milly Reynolds’ New Book: ‘The Second Death of Dr Finck’

A new book by Crime Fiction writer, Milly Reynolds, is due out imminently on Kindle.
It is the second book in the Jack Sallt series, a detective based in Norfolk, England, who has a lot of rough edges, getting him into serious scrapes with enemies, colleagues and loved-ones alike:
Two men are found in a beached boat, one dead, one seriously injured, stretching the resources of an already underfunded police force.
Suspended detective inspector, Jack Sallt, is reluctantly rushed back on duty to face his most perplexing and dangerous case yet, where old foes move in the shadows, threatening violence, controlling him with sensual taunts.
In the tense climax, Jack has to face his relentless enemies head on, risking not only his own life but also those of his colleagues and loved ones.

© copyright Milly Reynolds 2012

Poem ‘The Californian’

The Californian

To this day I don’t know for sure
who you were.
You sounded American
and dressed like a Californian,
or that’s how it seemed
to my parochial mind.

I wasn’t used to your friendliness,
being spoken to so kindly
by a complete stranger,
but then, that was the thing —
I felt I knew you.
Why didn’t I ask your name?

The event had brought us together.
Now we waited for the train
to take us back through Cumbria’s
rounded hills, always threatened by rain.
And true to form, despite it being July,
we found ourselves sheltering
in a little cafe, sipping bad coffee
made more palatable with cream.
That’s where I saw you surfing
in my mind’s eye,
feeling that smelting sun sink
beyond an ocean of glass.
We had just enough time
to assess our few days
in the company of a Buddha.
At least that’s what we said, if I recall,
and that we, too, might be Bodhisattvas!
And who’s to say we weren’t right?

Even now, when I play that album,
I keep looking at the picture
of the kind-looking man, all smiles,
with the sweet and beaten guitar.
He still looks an awful lot like you

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012