Bells In the High Tower
Bells in the high tower, ringing o'er the white hills,
Mocking the winter, singing like the spring rills;
Bells in the high tower, in the cold foretelling
Spring's green upwelling.
-Hungarian carol, English lyrics by Howard Box
It’s 7:32AM, and for once the Harkness bells are utterly silent. Feeling my pulse quicken, I tighten my grasp on the icy railings and venture an echoing step upward. And another one… and yet another one. As I grow closer and closer to the clearest sky I’ve seen in weeks, I lose track of how many I have left of the 284 steps of the rickety spiral staircase within the most widely recognized symbol of Yale.
But for all its fame (or notoriety, if you’re a Branfordian or Saybrugian who’s getting a bit more than the usual share of bell-tolling), Harkness Tower largely remains shrouded in mystery. How do you get in? What is it like inside? Can you get to the very top of the tower, and if so, how?
“Befriend a carillonneur,” many students say. But the truth is that people say that only because no one really knows how to get up there; in any case, the carillon is located at about halfway up even the tower, and carillonneurs can only climb to the actual rooftop of Harkness once a year with the supervision of a Yale Security Escort.
The prospect of sneaking into a place where not a lot of people have ever been to is pretty exciting. But that’s not the only reason why you’re slightly nervous as you climb higher and higher up the steep stairs. With fifteen stories, Harkness Tower is 216 feet tall: a foot for each year since the founding of Yale at the time the tower was built. Fifteen floors is pretty high up, and coupled with the dizzying effect of the narrow spiral staircase and the brisk wind blowing through the openwork, the thrill of the steep climb somewhat resembles that of a roller coaster ride at Disneyland.
Disneyland is famous for its “hidden Mickeys,” or images of Mickey Mouse concealed in the design of an attraction or building, which are a pretty ingenious way of keeping visitors from becoming bored while they wait in line. Likewise, if you’re brave enough to take your eyes off your feet as you go up or down the stairs of Harkness, look out for hidden bulldogs that are allegedly somewhere sculpted into the tower.
Slightly easier to find might be the eight-foot tall silhouettes and/or backsides of Yale’s eight “Worthies” near the clock face: Elihu Yale, Jonathan Edwards, Nathan Hale, Noah Webster, James Fenimore Cooper, John C. Calhoun, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Eli Whitney. Above them, although harder to see, are Homer, Aristotle, Euclid, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare, and personifications of the four fields of Medicine, Business, Law, and the Church along with abstract concepts such as Life and Progress, War and Peace, and Generosity and Order, all sculpted by Lee Lawrie, a former professor at Yale and sculptor of the famed Atlas figure of Rockefeller Center; however, for reasons unknown, the statues are placed so that they are barely visible to anyone observing from the ground level.
When you have reached past the tiers of sculptures and gargoyles, you are only a few steps away from your final destination: the rooftop of Harkness Tower. Once there, you see a clear blue sky stretch itself to the farthest corners of the earth. You see another version of your old and beautiful school spread out beneath you―one that is delightfully miniscule and yet in perfect accordance with the Yale you know. It’s an utterly breathtaking sight.
So all in all, is the topmost part of Harkness Tower a good destination for a rendezvous or not? No one can deny that it’s one of the toughest places to sneak into in all of Yale. Short of getting permission from your Dean or Master, you have to either befriend the head custodial supervisor in Branford, scale the 216-foot wall, or prepare to fight a hunchback tooth and nail for the key―but the thrill of the climb, the excitement of having birds glide under your feet, and the awe of seeing the world from an entirely different viewpoint more than make up for any preliminary difficulties.
And now you know where the old wooden door at the base of Harkness Tower leads. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the door open sometime, along with a host of possibilities―one of them being your having the most incredibly romantic date anyone on earth could ever imagine.
Reference: “The Character of Harkness Tower” by Tritia Yamasaki
詳細 → こちら
↓ ↓ ↓