Four Elements

AT&T Water

Above: Water

AT&T Fire

Above: Fire

AT&T

Above: Air

AT&T Earth

Above: Earth

Paul Manship

Manship (1885-1966, b. St. Paul, Minnesota) was one of the leading American sculptors of the 20th century. He trained with Solon Borglum (brother of Gutzon Borglum) and in Rome. On a 1912 trip to Greece he was inspired by Archaic Greek art (then relatively unknown), whose style he adapted for mythological subjects such as Prometheus. By the 1930s he was the most famous living sculptor in the United States.

Manhattan has the Four Elements, Prometheus1934, the Group of Bears, 1932 (Fifth Avenue at 81st Street, just inside Central Park), the Governor Alfred E. Smith Flagpole with its charming selection of New York State fauna, 1946 (Catherine and Cherry Streets), and the Lehman Gate at the entrance to the Central Park Children's Zoo, 1961 (near 66th Street). Queens has an armillary sphere in Flushing Meadows. The Bronx has the Rainey Gates at the north entrance to the Bronx Zoo, 1934.

Missing from the AT&T Building

Fot the top of their new headquarters, American Telephone & Telegraph commissioned a 24-foot-tall gilded sculpture by Evelyn Beatrice Longman: a winged male figure holding a bolt of electricity, and with loops of cables. It was known as the Genius of Telegraphy and later the Genius of Electricity, but to its friends it was "Golden Boy." When AT&T shifted its headquarters, the sculpture was moved to New Jersey and then to Texas.

AT&T Golden Boy

Above: "Golden Boy" by Evelyn Beatrice Longman, now at AT&T's corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Wikipedia / Dfwcre8tive

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Fire

Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love. - William Shakespeare

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. - Plutarch

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. - William Butler Yeats

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. - Frederick Douglass

Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke. - Benjamin Disraeli

Genius is talent set on fire by courage. - Henry Van Dyke

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot. - George Orwell

When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes. - Dylan Thomas

Robert Frost, "Fire and Ice"
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Sara Teasdale, "Barter"

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup....

The rest of the poem is here.

And if you're still in the mood for more: "Recuerdo," Edna St. Vincent Millay. (A line from this runs around the main hall in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhattan.)

Air or Wind

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. - Henry Ford

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind? - Percy Bysshe Shelley

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. - William Arthur Ward

Earth

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son! - end of Kipling's "If"

Water

Some poems resonate so much that you remember them always; and some just haunt you. For me, Tennyson's "The Voyage" is in the latter class. (Read it aloud!)

I.
We left behind the painted buoy
That tosses at the harbor-mouth;
And madly danced our hearts with joy,
As fast we fleeted to the South:
How fresh was every sight and sound
On open main or winding shore!
We knew the merry world was round,
And we might sail for evermore.

II.
Warm broke the breeze against the brow,
Dry sang the tackle, sang the sail:
The Lady's-head upon the prow
Caught the shrill salt, and sheer'd the gale.
The broad seas swell'd to meet the keel,
And swept behind: so quick the run,
We felt the good ship shake and reel,
We seem'd to sail into the Sun!

III.
How oft we saw the Sun retire,
And burn the threshold of the night,
Fall from his Ocean-lane of fire,
And sleep beneath his pillar'd light!
How oft the purple-skirted robe
Of twilight slowly downward drawn,
As thro' the slumber of the globe
Again we dash'd into the dawn!

IV.
New stars all night above the brim
Of waters lighten'd into view;
They climb'd as quickly, for the rim
Changed every moment as we flew.
Far ran the naked moon across
The houseless ocean's heaving field,
Or flying shone, the silver boss
Of her own halo's dusky shield;

V.
The peaky islet shifted shapes,
High towns on hills were dimly seen,
We past long lines of Northern capes
And dewy Northern meadows green.
We came to warmer waves, and deep
Across the boundless east we drove,
Where those long swells of breaker sweep
The nutmeg rocks and isles clove.

VI.
By peaks that flamed, or, all in shade,
Gloom'd the low coast and quivering brine
With ashy rains, that spreading made
Fantastic plume or sable pine;
By sands and steaming flats, and floods
Of mighty mouth, we scudded fast,
And hills and scarlet-mingled woods
Glow'd for a moment as we past.

VII.
O hundred shores of happy climes,
How swiftly stream'd ye by the bark!
At times the whole sea burn'd, at times
With wakes of fire we tore the dark;
At times a carven craft would shoot
From havens hid in fairy bowers,
With naked limbs and flowers and fruit,
But we nor paused for fruit nor flowers.

VIII.
For one fair Vision ever fled
Down the waste waters day and night,
And still we follow'd where she led,
In hope to gain upon her flight.
Her face was evermore unseen,
And fixt upon the far sea-line;
But each man murmur'd `O my Queen,
I follow till I make thee mine.'

IX.
And now we lost her, now she gleam'd
Like Fancy made of golden air,
Now nearer to the prow she seem'd
Like Virtue firm, like Knowledge fair,
Now high on waves that idly burst
Like Heavenly Hope she crown'd the sea
And now, the bloodless point reversed,
She bore the blade of Liberty.

X.
And only one among us--him
We please not--he was seldom pleased:
He saw not far: his eyes were dim:
But ours he swore were all diseased.
`A ship of fools' he shriek'd in spite,
`A ship of fools' he sneer'd and wept.
And overboard one stormy night
He cast his body, and on we swept.

XI.
And never sail of ours was furl'd,
Nor anchor dropt at eve or morn;
We loved the glories of the world,
But laws of nature were our scorn;
For blasts would rise and rave and cease,
But whence were those that drove the sail
Across the whirlwind's heart of peace,
And to and thro' the counter-gale?

XII.
Again to colder climes we came,
For still we follow'd where she led:
Now mate is blind and captain lame,
And half the crew are sick or dead.
But blind or lame or sick or sound
We follow that which flies before:
We know the merry world is round,
And we may sail for evermore.