Pan in the Past

University Archives, in the Columbia University Libraries Rare Book and Manuscript Library, recently released this archival photograph of George Grey Barnard's sculpture The Great God Pan (C00.825). As noted in a previous post, Barnard's sculpture is currently located outside Lewisohn Hall, but it was originally installed as a working fountain in a neo-Pompeiian grotto called the Grove, located in the northeast corner of the campus.

In 1916, Ralph Perry, editor of The Columbian, wrote a poem dedicated to the spirit of Pan and this sculpture, and published it in the university publication (p. 353). The title "Pan Gyrics" (instead of "lyrics") suggests the poem relates to the idea of gyration, moving rapidly in a circular pattern. It may have been intended as a team rally song and dance, especially since it appeared in the publication following an essay on football. Considering the association of the god Pan with nature and sexuality, however, the title arguably may also be a double entendre.

PAN GYRICS

To the Great God Pan

We haven't got a bull dog nor an ideal for a totem.
But yet we have a watchword and an emblem of our clan:
We don't say much about it, for it passes our expression
For the symbol of our spirit is the Great God Pan.

Yes, the big and mystic statue that has crept into our blood
With the love we bear our college–and who knows when that began?
But we feel it, and sense it with a fervor more than knowledge
When we swear, so very softly, "By the Great God Pan!"

All the bigness that is in us, all the glory that runs through us.
That is called out by "Columbia!" as we travel in her van–
And the spirit which it voices is of youth and aspiration:
Aye, may we live forever by the Great God Pan!

2 thoughts on “Pan in the Past

    1. Roberto Ferrari Post author

      Dear maud: Thank you for your comment. That is a good a question, but unfortunately we don’t know the answer. Someone will have to do more research on that.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.