Friday, December 21, 2018

Rik George writes & draws

The Alpha-Bestiary

R is for Rehoboam, 
The rat from Raritan 
Who raced in the maze at Roanoke, 
Ran the marathon at Refugio, 
Raced a canoe down the Rapidan, 
Ran for his life from Recife to Rio, 
And died in honor climbing Raton Pass in New Mexico


  1. Raritan, New Jersey, was named after the Lenape-speaking Raritan people of the area. Their name may have been derived from “naraticong” (river beyond the island), or from the Dutch pronunciation of “wawitan” (forked river) or “rarachons” (stream overflows). Roanoke, North Carolina, is named after the Roanac people.

    The 1st English colony in the Americas was at Roanoke island. Richard Grenville established a settlement there in 1585, then returned to England for supplies, leaving Ralph Lane in charge. In an effort to obtain food Lane led an unprovoked attack against a local tribe and succeeded only in cutting off his main food source. After attacking the 20-year-old Spanish settlement of San Agustín, in modern Florida, Francis Drake sailed north and evacuated Lane’s settlement in 1586; when Grenville returned to his abandoned colony he left 15 men behind, who were subsequently killed or driven away. John White attempted a new settlement in 1587; his daughter Eleanor gave birth to Virginia Dare, the 1st English child born in the Americas. White too returned to England for supplies, with instructions to the colonists to carve their destination if they needed to depart; however, he was unable to go back to North America until 1590 due to Spain’s unsuccessful invasion of England. The site was deserted, but White found "CROATOAN" carved into a post and "CRO" carved into a tree. Much has been made about a supposed “code” being left behind, but Croatoan was the name of modern Hatteras, an island to the south. Due to bad weather White did not go there and returned to England instead.
    The Rapidan is a river in Virginia, the largest tributary of the Rappahannock. It was originally the Rapid Ann river, a combination of “rapids” (sections of a river where the bed has a steep gradient, that causes an increase in velocity and turbulence) and the name of the queen of the United Kingdom from 1702-1707.
    Recife beganin the 1530s as a series of fishing shacks, inns and warehouses on the delta between the Capibaribe and Beberibe rivers in the captaincy of Pernambuco of Terra de Santa Cruz (modern Brasil). It took its name from the “recife” (the reef that encloses its harbor). Between 1630-1654, as Mauritsstad, it was the capital of Nieuw-Holland, but the Dutch were forced to return it to Portugal. It is popularly known as the Brazilian Venice due to its many rivers, small islands, and bridges. Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565 and was the capital of Brasil from 1763 until 1960. When the Braganza dynasty was forced to flee by Napoleon I in 18078, Maria I established a government-in-exile at Rio, and she elevated Brasil to the status of kingdom in 1815. Her son João VI remained in Brasil until 1821; during his rule there he brutally quelled a revolt in Recife in 1817. When he returned to Portugal he left his son Pedro behind as regent; Pedro revolted in 1822, establishing himself as emperor of Brasil.
    Ratón (Spanish for “mouse”) is a pass along the New Mexico-Colorado border, on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) mountains. It is 7,834 ft (2,388 m) high and was laid out as part of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821.

  2. Refugio, Texas, was established by Mexico in 1834, shortly before the “Texians” gained their independence. A Mexican force under José Urrea defeated a much smaller force there in March 1836 as part of the Goliad campaign. Despite Urrea’s protests presidente Antonio López de Santa Anna ordered the executions of over 400 prisoners of war; there bodies were burned and left unburied for over a month, until after Santa Ana’s defeat. Walt Whitman recounted the events in his 1855 classic “Leaves of Grass”:
    Hear now the tale of a jetblack sunrise,
    Hear of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men.

    Retreating they had formed in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks,
    Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's nine times their number was the price they took in advance,
    Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
    They treated for an honorable capitulation, received writing and seal, gave up their arms, and marched back prisoners of war.

    They were the glory of the race of rangers,
    Matchless with a horse, a rifle, a song, a supper or a courtship,
    Large, turbulent, brave, handsome, generous, proud and affectionate,
    Bearded, sunburnt, dressed in the free costume of hunters,
    Not a single one over thirty years of age.

    The second Sunday morning they were brought out in squads and massacred …. it was beautiful early summer,
    The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by eight.
    None obeyed the command to kneel,
    Some made a mad and helpless rush …. some stood stark and straight,
    A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart …. the living and dead lay together,
    The maimed and mangled dug in the dirt …. the new-comers saw them there;
    Some half-killed attempted to crawl away,
    These were dispatched with bayonets or battered with the blunts of muskets;
    A youth not seventeen years old seized his assassin till two more came to release him,
    The three were all torn, and covered with the boy's blood.
    At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies;
    And that is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men,
    And that was a jetblack sunrise.


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