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The Court of the Universe
This court, which strongly resembles the great area in front of St. Peter's, Rome, with its sweep of colonnade to right and left, was designed by the New York firm of McKim, Meade and White.
The architecture is Italian Renaissance and gives you the beautiful spirit of the old-time work. It is a wonderful court in architecture, ornamentation, color, arrangement, and above all in meaning.
In order to get the full joy of it you must pursue a regular plan and you cannot hurry. Don't try to do it all in one day. First walk thru the court to the Triumphal Arch on the right. Pass thru it and read the quotation on the right at the top of the arch.
The Cosmical Side of the Court of the Universe
"The universe - an infinite sphere. Its center everywhere, its circumference, nowhere." This comes from Pascal, from his Pensées.
This splendid quotation gives you the infinite side of your subject.
Now pass back to the Court of the Universe and you will see ninety times repeated against the sky, A. Stirling Calder's very decorative "Jeweled Star." This will suggest the myriad of suns in our great universe (since stars are suns).
The nearest star to us, our sun ("The Rising Sun," by A. A. Weinmann of New York) then attracts the attention.
He is seen just before daybreak.
This fresh, strong young sun is just bout to start on his journey. Dawn is soon to break upon the world and with muscles stretched, the heavenly joy of the first move expressed upon his face, the wind blowing thru his hair, the vigor of young life pulsating thru his body, he will start the chest forward and move those outstretched wings.
Walk toward him and you will see him begin his journey thru space.
Now read the quotation an the Triumphal Arch of the Rising Sun:
"The moon sinks yonder in the west
- By Kalidasa (the Shakespeare of India).
The sun at setting is represented by a beautiful woman. The day is just about to close and with muscles relaxed (knees bent, head drooping, arms falling, wings folding) she is soon to sink to slumber, to pass from view. This is what is suggested by calling the figure the Setting Sun.
In the Fine Arts Palace, Mr. A. A. Weinmann has called the same figure "Descending Night," and that title is much more consistent and satisfactory, for how are you going to account for the youthful sun's appearing at the end of the day as a woman?
Then again the reliefs refer to "Descending Night," for they are called "The Mysteries of Dusk."
Now raise your eyes to those beautiful cameo figures on the burnt orange ground at the entrance to the colonnades, and you will be carried in thought to the Zodiac, that great imaginary belt thru which the sun and planets travel.
There you see the zodiacal figures, two and two, with their symbols, gliding thru space.
The clouds or nebulous matter is suggested by the female figures with swirling drapery, toward the end of the frieze.
In the center stands Atlas, mythologically the first astronomer. Your fancy has carried you on the wings of the wind at this very suggestion. These fourteen maids are Atlas' fourteen daughters.
Go close to the die of the fountain of the Rising Sun and look at the reliefs.
The subject is Day Triumphant. The genius of Time with hour-glass is followed by the genius of Light with flaming torch, and Energy sounds on his trumpet the announcement of the break of day.
Truth follows with mirror and sword emerging triumphant from the sinister powers of Darkness. Falsehood shrinks from its own image reflected in the mirror of Truth. Vice cowers and struggles in the coils of a serpent.
Walk over to the corresponding die on the fountain of Descending Night. On it are shown the Gentle Powers of the Night. Dusk envelops in her cloak Labor, Love and Peace.
Following are Illusions carried upon the wings of Sleep. Then come the Evening Mists, followed by the Star Dance and Luna, goddess of the Silver crescent. (Let me acknowledge the kind help of Mr. A. A. Weinmann in the interpretation of these reliefs.)
You have swept your mind over the cosmical side of the Court of the Universe on objects at a great distance. Come closer now to view the elements. These colossal figures of Earth, Air, Water, Fire assume a certain majesty in this Court of the Universe.
They are in horizontal composition and add greatly to the decorative, side of this inspiring court.
Earth - The sleeping Earth which yields to man wood (from the great trees whose roots ramify below the surface of the ground), stone and minerals - (man wrests thru great muscular strength these substances from the earth).
Air - That holds to her ear the star. She is listening to the music of the spheres. On her back are wings which man has fastened so that he can overcome her - a fine suggestion to aerial navigation.
The bird, the symbol of the air, is twice repeated.
Fire - His very expression of face shows you the terrorizing effect of fire. He holds his hand in the flame. The lightning plays on his right arm. Across his figure passes the salamander, the fabled reptile of the fire. (See the real salamander in the Japanese concession on the Zone.)
Water - The bellowing ocean with mouth agape lies on the tossing waves, thru which sport the dolphins.
Ocean, the king of the waters, carries the trident.
On his head and in his hands the kelp is seen.
The elements are by Robert Aitken of New York, formerly of San Francisco.
The Human Side of the Court of the Universe
All is now ready for man.
In the center of the Court of the Universe was to have been Daniel French's Genius of Creation, but if it is not there, we must not lose the great dominant note of this Court, so pass thru the Triumphal Arch of the Orient, thru the beautiful Aisle of the Rising Sun, across the Court of the Ages, out thru the next aisle, to the plaza in front of Machinery Palace in order to follow the story.
Here on the boulder sits the great Spirit (not a man you will notice). The hood is drawn far over the face so that a certain idealism is produced - a great spirit with wings and arms raised.
Wisdom (the serpent) encircles the throne.
The arms of the creating spirit have just been raised, the word has just been spoken and splendid manhood ready to meet the world, with modest, helpful woman, just come forth. The hands touch at the back of the group, causing you to feel that man and woman are mutually dependent.
Return to the Court of the Universe.
Now, look up at the Triumphal arches and notice Leo Lentelli's Angel of Peace with its downturned sword.
"Let there be peace throughout the world. Turn down the sword," it says.
A night of illumination should follow your work and you can then read under the searchlights the words on the right upper corner of the Oriental Gateway -
"Our eyes and hearts uplifted
(From Hitomaro, the Japanese poet of the 8th century, A. D.)
Your scene is shifted for a short time.
You have passed into the Court of the Ages for a retrospect (upon the human side).
The primitive people are to be seen here on the Fountain of the Psychology of Life. Don't try to see everything in detail now, for you can come back later.
Just realize this, that the small group facing west in the fountain is The Dawn of Life, then comes Natural Selection which develops into The Survival of the Fittest, or The Development of the Militant Spirit.
This early period shows man working strongly under the power of impulse. Vanity, lust and greed seem to dominate his actions. On these primitive people pass thru life. You can see them if you look up on the Tower. On they march, in that upward climb of civilization.
Marching along with primitive man, thru long periods of time, you next meet him developed as the Crusader of the Mediaeval period. He has mounted thru war and his religion and stands at the feet of the Priestess of Religion, the last group at the upper part of the Tower.
On either side you will notice a man and a woman standing on the bodies of primitive beings. These figures represent the man and the woman of today - the man and the woman who have sprung from this primitive stock.
Don't stop in this beautiful Court of the Ages, for we shall return later to finish our story.
You have gotten connection enough now to allow you to return to the Court of the Universe.
Take a seat in the sunken garden and look up at the figures on the Triumphal Arch of the Rising Sun. The Orientals are represented by many types.
From left to right are seen:
1. The Arab sheik on his Arabian steed.
2. The Negro servitor with fruits on head.
3. The Egyptian on his camel, carrying a Mohammedan standard.
4. The Arab falconer with bird on wrist.
5. The splendid Indian prince on the back of the elephant.
6. Inside the howdah the Spirit of the East.
7. The lama from Thibet with his rod of authority.
8. The Mohammedan with his crescent standard.
9. Again a negro servitor.
10. The Mongolian on his horse.
On they come, these Orientals, to take part in the great celebration. (They are the collaborated work of A. Stirling Calder, Leo Lentelli, Frederick Roth.)
Next look up at your Occidentals on the Arch of the Setting Sun.
From left to right you see:
1. The French Canadian - the trapper.
2. The Alaskan with her totem poles on her back.
3. The Latin-American on horseback.
4. The German.
5. The Italian.
6. The Anglo-American.
7. The Squaw with her papoose basket.
8. The American Indian on his horse.
In the center is the old Prairie Schooner drawn by the great oxen.
Atop, pushing out, is Enterprise leading these men westward, on either side a white boy and a colored boy, The Heroes of Tomorrow.
In front marches that stalwart Mother of Tomorrow. It has taken all these Occidentals to produce the work that is coming in the future - the achievements due to the completion of the Panama Canal - therefore, they conjointly express "The Mother of Tomorrow."
These nations are now marching into the Court of the Universe and are to meet in front of the Tower of Jewels, the symbol of the Panama Canal.
Read now on the Occidental Gateway the magnificent lines by Walt Whitman:
"Facing west from California's shores,
Mr. Porter Garnett's excellent explanation you may be glad to read:
"In these transcendent lines we have the poet speaking as the personification and representative of the Aryan race, the race, which, having its origin in the plains of Kashmir, has by virtue of the spirit of conquest, the desire to be seeking what is yet unfound, finally reached the western edge of the American Continent, whence it 'faces west from California's shores' and looks toward the House of Maternity, the Land of Migrations from which it originally sprang."
"It seems hardly possible to conceive of an inscription that embodies such a tremendous thought, and is, at the same time, so appropriate to the purpose for which it is suggested. It comes, moreover, from the poet who above all others represents the spirit of the American people and the ideals of democracy."
You now feel the import of the Occidentals who, with that Aryan spirit, have with mighty power, such as Hercules alone possessed (as Perham Nahl's poster tells you) severed two continents and introduced the Panama Canal.
Next read the far-seeing words of Goethe in his letters to Eckermann (on the west side of The Arch of the Setting Sun):
"It is absolutely indispensable for the United States to effect a passage from the Mexican Gulf to the Pacific Ocean, and I am certain that they will do it. Would that I could live to see it, but I shall not."
The Historical Side of the Court of the Universe
Begin with Mr. Edward Simmon's murals on either side of the Gateway of the Rising Sun.
Facing east, the mural on the right represents The Nations That Have Crossed the Atlantic (Greece, Italy, Spain, England, France, etc.) and the special types are these:
1. The savage of the lost Atlantis.
2. The Graeco-Roman sharpening his blade.
3. Columbus, the type of adventurer.
4. Sir Walter Raleigh, the type of colonist.
5. The priest, representing the Jesuit missionaries.
6. The artist.
7. The workman.
8. The (veiled) Future listening to the Past.
The people of the old world, with all their traditions, cross the Atlantic, led by the "Spirit of Adventure" (with his bugle calling them to come).
The mural on the opposite side shows the aspirations, etc., of the group just examined.
Reading from left to right we find the men had hopes (and some false hopes - but bubbles), commerce, inspiration, truth, religion, wealth and family in their minds.
Cross to the Gateway of the Setting Sun looking at the mural on the right as you face west.
Time has moved on since those early colonists came to the Atlantic shores and now the Spirit of Abundance (with her overflowing golden cornucopia) is sounding the call for all to follow.
Many leave their homes to join the great throng that is moving westward. The wagon is laden with the necessaries of life for the new home in the western country. You see the feather bed, the old grandfather's clock that stood on the stairs, the scythe, the pitchfork and the rake for their agricultural interests, etc. On the right the young man who has said goodbye to his wife now turns to his aged parents. The mother, overcome with grief at parting, stands speechless, and the grey-haired father shakes his boy's hands and wishes him "Godspeed."
All types of men are taking the journey and you are reminded that not alone workmen and adventurers are leading the procession, but ministers, women with their refining influence, children with their school books, and college men with gown and mortar-board, with books under arms - all moving on the long journey westward.
Occupying the same position on the southern side of the arch the companion-piece, by Frank Vincent Du Mond, shows these men from the Atlantic arriving at the shores of the Pacific.
The people of the west with outstretched arms welcome the travelers. The children of the Pacific shores run with flowers and fruits to greet them. You will notice the different types arriving from the Atlantic shore - literary men (with pen and book), architects (with temple in hand), scientists (with book under arm), Franciscan friars (with crucifix and mission bells in hand), etc. These are followed by the Red Coats, indicating those who preserved order. These men are all led by the Spirit of Adventure. She is no longer in the foreground, but is ready to fall behind as soon as she has fulfilled her mission.
The agricultural interests of the western countries are suggested by the wheat and implements of the field. The heavily laden orange trees speak of the fruit industries. Does the tapir stand for South America? Surely, South America is coming into the foreground just now.
The people have now been brought to the shores of the Pacific.
The Panama region is the one next to be visited and you rehearse its story, standing under the Tower of Jewels, "The Panama Canal."
These are the murals of Frank DeLeftwich Dodge:
1. The Panama Isthmus is discovered.
2. It is purchased by the United States.
3. You are reminded that the great waters - the Atlantic and the Pacific - play with titanic force on either side of the isthmus.
4. The Panama Canal is completed.
5. Labor is crowned.
6. The achievements which follow are shown: (The caduceus, the wand of Mercury, the symbol of commerce, is prominent.)
Pass thru this Tower of jewels noticing in the eastern and also the western arcades two fine fountains.
On the left is the Fountain of Youth by Mrs. Edith Woodman Burroughs of Flushing, Long Island.
The simple, beautiful, naive figure standing on the pedestal is Youth, the United States, the child that has come from old parents (Europe).
The old father and mother have had many children - many little primroses you will notice - but none more dear than this one. The charming panels will remind you that the old people of today are being rowed by the young. These children row the vessels, bring them to shore and fasten them to their moorings.
Many of the old people are deaf or blind and are straining to follow the young who, with willing hands are guiding them on. A most charming, lovely work is this, and adds a fine touch to the open book that we are reading. Don't lose the eagle and laurel wreath back of Youth. They are significant.
Oh the other side is the fine formal fountain of "El Dorado," by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney of New York.
The fountain of El Dorado brings to mind the old Indian legend of El Dorado, the Gilded One:
There was once among the South American tribes a belief that in a certain far-off country lived a king called El Dorado, the Gilded One. He ruled over a region where gold and precious stones were found in abundance.
The story influenced a vast number of adventurers who led expeditions to seek the land of golden treasure, but, notwithstanding the fact that they searched most carefully and for long periods, they all failed to find it.
The idea of the unattainable gave the suggestion to Mrs. Whitney for her fountain.
The gold of El Dorado was used as the symbol of all material advantages which we so strongly desire - wealth, power, fame, etc.
In the panels are seen the men and women of life in their mad race for the unattainable.
Many have had a glimpse of El Dorado, the Gilded One, and are rushing on to pass the mysterious gate behind which the desires of life await them.
Some faint by the roadside or stop in their race for the goal to contend or to loiter by the way, but those nearest the El Dorado increase their speed - rush madly on.
Beside the gateway that has only just allowed the fabled El Dorado, the Gilded One, to pass through are two mortals who have come close to the land of their desires, but only to find the door shut and slaves beside it barring the way. Their strength is expended, their courage gone in the long race for material things. The panels of this fountain tell us in satirical language something we can profitably think over and realize if we will.
The Ethical Side of the Court of the Universe
After man has created the great "Isthmian Way," it is well to think on his fine ethical standards.
Read on the triumphal arches these quotations on truth, honor, justice, wisdom:
"Truth, witness of the past, counsellor of the present, guide of the future." (Cervantes in Don Quixote.) East side of Arch of the Setting Sun.
"They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it." (Confucius from the Confucian Analects translated by James Legge.) West side of the Arch of the Rising Sun.
"He that honors not himself lacks honor where soe'er he goes." (From the "Mu'allaqua" of Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulma translated by Reynold A. Nicholson.) East side of the Arch of the Rising Sun.
"The world is in its most excellent state when justice is supreme." (Dante Purgatoria.) West side of the Arch of the Setting Sun.
"A wise man teaches, be not angry; from untrodden ways turn aside." (From the sayings of Phra Ruang, Prince Ram Khamheng of Sukhothai.) East side of the Arch of the Rising Sun.
Coming into this great Court of the Universe one hopes that truth, honor, justice and wisdom will be maintained.
The Floral Side of the Court of the Universe
This court will show a succession of beautiful bloom throughout the year. The daffodils will have their golden season, the rhododendrons their brilliant sheet of color, and in May the columns will support our various climbing roses, exhaling their perfume for all who come to this Land of Flowers.
Summer flowering annuals will follow and later the autumnal flowers.
Read the quotation on the aisle side of the Arch of the Rising Sun:
"The balmy air diffuses health and fragrance,
So, while thinking of a Persian garden in the quotation, we feel the applicability of these words to the California gardens.
The Festival Side of the Court of the Universe
There is still another side to realize in this meaningful court. The exposition is a great festival, a triumphal festival, and you meet the suggestions of it all around you.
This great court is entered on three sides by Triumphal Arches.
The Triumphal Arch of the Occident,
The Triumphal Arch of the Orient,
The Triumphal Arch of the Tower of Jewels.
The prototype of the triumphal arch is seen in many places, most satisfactorily today in Rome.
The Arch of Constantine is the best model for us to examine, for it has three openings - even if the shape of the side opening is not the same as that of the arches before us.
The great court is hung with festoons (on the frieze) and decorated with the vine and its grapes (on the architrave).
The bulls' heads with festoons are represented on the frieze as they once were on the altars of old when the festival, "The Feast of the Sacrifice," was celebrated. (Refer to the same subject in The Court of the Four Seasons.)
In stately procession around the sunken garden are seen the Canephori bringing their jars of nectar.
The Canephori in old Greek days were the maidens who formed part of the great processions, such an one as the Panethenaea, carrying on their heads baskets which held the consecrated temple furniture, to be deposited at the end of the long march in the temple.
Here the sculptor has taken the license of representing men with the maidens, and instead of baskets has used vases.
This idea of the festival is strongly accented at night when you are transported to old Greek and Roman days.
Follow after this procession and you will notice that Paul Manship's "Joy of Living," or "Motion," as it is also called, has entered. The joyous girls in perfect abandon are coming to join the happy throng. They bring their offerings in the shape of great wild-rose festoons, well suited to the "Wild Roses" who carry them.
Near by is Paul Manship's "Music," adding the song, and the music of the lyre.
As a last touch you will find the nations of the Occident and the nations of the Orient marching into this Court of the Universe to take part in the festival in celebration of one of the greatest events of history - the opening of the Panama Canal.
At night comes the illumination, as a climax to the festival, and gradually the lights die down and all is still - just for a few hours only, for day will dawn, for is not the Rising Sun ever with us - and another day of festivity will come, and yet more at this greatest festival that the world has ever known.