The murals in the lunettes of the south gallery are by artist Henry Oliver Walker (1843–1929). The largest mural, at the far end, depicts Lyric Poetry. Before a distant vista figures are gathered in a woodland scene with a tumbling brook at its center, a wild and natural scene that might inspire a poet.
The figure standing boldly forward in the center represents “Lyric Poetry,” crowned with a wreath of laurel and touching the strings of a lyre. The feelings that most commonly inspire her songs are personified on either side. On the right are “Pathos,” looking upward, as if calling on heaven to allay her grief; “Truth,” a beautiful nude woman (the naked truth) stands securely upright; and in the corner “Devotion” sits absorbed in contemplation. On the left are “Passion,” enraptured, with her arms thrown out in a graceful movement; “Beauty,” who sits calmly self-contained; and “Mirth,” the nude figure of a little boy, who invites her to play.
In each of the smaller lunettes, the artists depicts youthful male figures who are characters in the works of noted British and American poets; represented on the south side of the corridor are Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809–1892, John Keats (1809–1892), William Wordsworth (1770–1850), and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882); and on the north side John Milton (1608–1674) and William Shakespeare (1564–1616).
Photography by Carol M. Highsmith.