Verse 07

General notes on Verse 7




Lines Interpretation(s)

At stone wall's door

The air smells sweet

- The "stone wall's door" could refer to the wall at the Garden of Shakespeare's Flowers.  The alcove in the middle of the wall contains a rare bust of William Shakespeare, and so there are sturdy doors that can be closed to protect it.  The alcove is a reasonable match for the barred window at the top of Image 1.


Shakespeare bust photo used under a creative common license
Attribution Some rights reserved by joshleejosh on Flickr


- Flanking the bust on both sides are 6 bronze plaques that list all of the plant-related quotations from Shakespeare's works.  The "sweet smell" could simply refer to the famous line from Romeo and Juliet: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  It's very possible that Preiss is deliberately prompting us to think of that line by including a rose in Image 1.


- "Sweet smell" could also refer to either the Golden Gate Park Rose Garden or to the San Francisco Botanical Garden's Garden of Fragrance.  Both are east of Highway 1 near Stow Lake.


- Alternatively, the "sweet smell" could be a reference to the Spreckels Temple of Music which is just across the street from the Shakespeare garden and is named after sugar mogul Claus Spreckels.


- Another interpretation of the "Sweet smell" could be associated to Golden Gate Park Strawberry Hill. The Hill got its named from the fact that a lot of Strawberries were growing on its side, which gave a sweet scent. (source: Official Golden Gate website): 


Not far away

High posts are three

- This would likely be a reference to the Sutro Tower.  According to Wikipedia, it's "a three-pronged antenna tower near Clarendon Heights in San Francisco" that is "a prominent part of the city skyline and a landmark for city residents and visitors."  The tower is located only a few blocks away from the southeast corner of the park and is visible from the rose garden, the botanical garden, and Stow Lake.

A picture of the Sutro tower as seen from Golden Gate Park's Strawberry Hill:


Education and Justice

For all to see

- It's possible that "Education" and "Justice" are Chinese characters that appear on the Chinese pavilion on Stow Lake.  (To see the inscriptions, visit Yagi_94118's Flickr photostream.)


- Alternatively, "Education" could refer to the University of San Francisco at the northeast corner of Golden Gate Park.


- "Justice" could refer to Alcatraz.


- The two roads that pass under Highway 1 in the park are "John F. Kennedy Drive" (formerly "North Drive") and "Martin Luther King Jr. Drive" (formerly "South Drive").  Of the two modern names, only "Kennedy Drive" could be related to The Secret.  North Drive got its new name in 1967, but South Drive wasn't renamed until 1983.


Sounds from the sky

Near ace is high

Running north, but first across

- "Ace is high" could refer to Highway 1.  "Ace" would mean "one" and "high" would mean both "highway" and literally "high" (because Highway 1 is elevated where it goes through Golden Gate Park).  "Sounds from the sky" would match this interpretation because Hwy. 1 is a six-lane highway and a person standing nearby in Golden Gate Park will hear the roar of traffic from above.


- Highway 1 runs north through most of San Francisco, but at Golden Gate Park it turns and runs due east (across) for a few blocks before turning north again to go to the Golden Gate Bridge.  At the point where the highway turns there is a large stone cross called the "prayer-book cross." The line could be a play on words meaning a) the highway running across the park, b) the highway turning to run across San Francisco, and c) the presence there of the stone cross ("but first, a cross").


In jewel's direction

Is an object

Of Twain's attention

- "Twain" is probably a reference to Mark Twain, who worked as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco from 1864 to 1865.  No direct connection has yet been found between Twain and Golden Gate Park, but Twain did make at least one trip to Cliff House, which is just a few blocks away. Twain wrote about his visit in "Early Rising, As Regards Excursions to the Cliff House," which was published in The Golden Era magazine in 1864.


- Mark Twain also wrote a little-remembered book about William Shakespeare.  The "object of Twain's attention" could therefore be the same Garden of Shakespeare's Flowers that is mentioned above. 


- The "object of Twain's attention" could also be the side-wheel paddle steamboat Eureka, which is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park at Hyde Pier.


-  The "object of Twain's attention" could also refer to Fulton Street, alongside the Golden Gate Park on its north side. Fulton was an engineer credited for the first commercially successful steamboat. Twain was vice-president of the Fulton Monument Association, whose purpose was to build a Robert Fulton monument in NYC.


- Another possible object - Golden Gate Park has an additional piece going east called the Panhandle. At the easternmost point of the Panhandle is a statute to William McKinley.  Twain was a vociferous opponent of McKinley over the issue of Imperialism especially in the Philippines, which was started by the McKinley administration and famously opposed by Twain.


Giant pole

Giant step

To the place

The casque is kept.

- The "giant pole" could be the “Goddess of the Forest,” a giant wooden sculpture carved out of the single trunk of a redwood tree during the 1939/40 World's Fair in San Francisco.  The sculpture was erected in Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park and stood there until the summer of 1986, when it had to be removed because of weather-related decomposition.  The cement base that supported the sculpture is still there in the park, where the 30th Avenue entrance meets JFK Drive (map view, tilt view, street view).  One searcher in 2008 dug all around the base but didn't find anything.


- Alternatively, the "giant pole" could be the 60-foot-tall totem pole at Cliff House.  


- A third possibility is that the "giant pole" is one of the long metal handrails that run up the staircases in the park.


- The repetition of "Giant" could be a playful reference to the city's baseball team, the San Francisco Giants.





Other Notes: