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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
"Es ist der Geist der sich den Koeper baut."
Just three and a half decades ago His Majesty the German Emperor, Wilhelm 11, bestowed upon the President and Fellows of Harvard College a matchless collection of casts of German sculpture. It was this Imperial gift that assured the Germanic Association, founded only the previous year, the success of its aspiration to create in America a monument to German culture. A few years later Adolphus Busch donated the money to build, and Professor Bestelmeyer of Munich designed, the present Germanic Museum.
This year the Museum has been humming with activity. Up to a couple of months ago you could watch red-headed Lewis Rubenstein, '30, painting on the damp, freshly plastered walls of the entrance hall scenes from the "Neibelungenlied" and the old "Icelandic Edda". And stirring scenes they are. "Wars are waged, blood is shed, and evil grows greater . . . The giants have gathered to attack Asgard." Frey, the traitorous Loki, and Thor, with his mighty workman's hammer, battle on the bridge Bilfrost, which "is built of air and water, and is protected by red fire flaming on its edge."
Mr. Rubenstein has departed with his slaked lime, but others have come to take his place to divert the Vagabond. A great pipe organ rises in the loft of the main hall. Wires, pipes, bellows and queerly shaped pieces of wood are strewn about in ordered confusion. It seems fitting that there should be an organ here to express in music the Wagnerian scenes of Lewis Rubenstein's murals, but I fear for the effects of its vibrations upon the fragile plaster casts of mediaeval saints.
Down below looms the mighty Golden Gate of the Cathedral of Freiberg, covered with intricate sculptures. Peter Vischer's Tomb of St. Sebald, with its majestic figures of the Twelve Apostles-- and his own aproned self down in one corner-- towers to the ceiling. After contemplating these Paul Kleinschmidt's twentieth-century "Tittering Woman," is irritating, although friends assure me that it too is art. But Albrecht Durer's "Geometry and Perspective", Nuremberg 1525, soon restores my good humour, and, at peace with myself and the world, I look out the window at the great bronze lion guarding the court.
It is to this pleasant oasis of German culture that the Vagabond, when Herr Hitler's rantings have made him sick at heart, sometimes retires on Wednesday morning at eleven, there to hear Associate Professor Taylor Starck give his admirable lectures on "German Civilization."
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