Seven Seas Magazine - April 1932
Front Cover, The Seven Seas Magazine for April 1932. Published Monthly by the North German Lloyd. Cover Drawing of Istanbul by Ruth Hoffman. GGA Image ID # 128a2783f3
The Seven Seas, Vol. 9, No. 2 for April 1932. Photographs Include April in Holland; The Tyn at Night; Fleet Street, London; Mrs. Harvey and Ina Claire. Featured Articles Include Frontispiece, April in Holland, Transatlantica, Kindergarten, Sokol, by C. McCord Lowes, When in London... by Ernestine Evans, Baden, by James B. Wharton, Books for Bon Voyage by Donald Douglas, and Foreign Events.
I lay stretched out on the canvas-covered hatch that stands low, broad and comfortable in the middle of the immense after-promenade, basking in the warm sunshine and watching the Acropolis disappear in the distance.
My mind was filled with the fresh memory of a morning spent among those beautiful ruins bleaching on their hill over Athens, of the blue sky seen between stately columns, and the magic of an architecture whose supremacy to all other architecture was still striking after more than twenty centuries.
Then my thoughts wandered from the Parthenon to the gulls that hovered hopefully above the silver braid of our wake, for they seemed up there in the sunlight, so white and graceful, as beautiful among birds as the temples, now hidden by another horizon, were among buildings. I wondered what else could be as beautiful, in the same way, as the architecture of gulls and of ancient Greece.
What else could be so finely shaped, so pleasing to the eye and so clean of all unaccountable decoration. And perhaps because of the proximity of such a good example, I thought of a ship. I didn’t think of the inside of a ship. I thought of the clear black flanks rising from the water line, of the long and almost imperceptible curve of the decks, of the sudden white of the superstructure set with polished brass, of the raking masts and funnels leaning away from the wind.
From where I lay, the scene about me was in a sense as satisfying as that upon the Acropolis. It was nothing but ship and the shadows of gulls. The passengers were all at luncheon (a function that I would hardly have foregone had I not planned this opportunity to watch our passage out into the Aegean, and provided myself against it with a plate of nectar and a stein of ambrosia), leaving the decks in my vicinity deserted.
It was thus possible to see plainly what had made me think of a ship as something as beautiful as a bird or a building, each in its perfection. The form and angle of every object were so gracefully governed by the necessity to fit the flow of wind and water and to facilitate a variety of operations within a limited space, that all the fixtures and fittings with which a liner s deck is furnished fell into an harmonious whole.
Whatever the walls of a ship are called were glistening white, and the combination of this whiteness and the shiny brasswork of the portholes with which these walls were pierced was as exciting as any combination of colors I had ever seen.
It was a pure and perfect type of beauty to be enjoyed apart from any feeling of sentiment or romance, which was also why I liked the loveliness of the temples on the Acropolis and that of the gulls above me in the sunlight....
Finally I found myself in the main lobby of the liner, looking at the radio despatches that were posted on the bulletin board every day at noon. Halfway down was one that said the Bremen, in spite of wintry weather, had again quite calmly broken her record from Cherbourg Breakwater to Ambrose Lightship.
I remembered how beautiful she looked at Bremerhaven two summers ago, poised for her maiden passage, all glistening white and black and tawny, a modern Acropolis for the goddess of speed and splendor, and with what ease she sped along her record-making run.
I had in my hand as I read this report an advance copy of Mr. Hodgins’ book* about the Bremen and Europa, which had come to me at Atfiens; and I thought to myself that here in it was the other side of one’s infatuation for big and beautiful ships.
Less their loveliness and more their manifold and fascinating intricacy. Here in this book were the how and why and wherefore of every big and little thing from way above the bridge to way below the keel, and all as though it were written breathlessly, as indeed I knew it had been done, full of the glamor of those two- exciting subjects.
But I was so under the spell of the Acropolis that I could' only think of those two liners in the book and the liner in which I was now cruising these classic seas, in terms of beauty.
And I thought how important it was that someone should see the resemblance I had noticed that afternoon between the conscious beauty of the Acropolis and the unconscious beauty of a great modern boat. So I wrote this.
Mrs. Harvey and Ina Claire Relax on their Deck Chairs on the SS Bremen. GGA Image ID # 128a80533a
Advertisment: Going to Europe Means Going to Germany. GGA Image ID # 128abcf52f