Poetic Inspiration: The Adams Memorial

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 12:30pm
Led by 
Kim Roberts

“The work is indescribably noble and imposing.  It is, to my mind, St. Gaudens’s masterpiece.  It is full of poetry and suggestion,” wrote John Hay to his companion Henry Adams in 1891, describing the completed memorial Adams commissioned sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens to design for his deceased wife’s gravesite, a sculpture that is considered the most important example of funerary art in America.  Ever since its installation in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Cemetery, artists, writers and poets have responded to the Adams Memorial’s evocative beauty and air of mystery by producing their own works of art.  Adams himself seems to have foreseen this phenomenon when he wrote, “The interest in the figure was not in its meaning, but in the response of the observer . . . Like all great artists, St. Gaudens held up the mirror and no more.”  D.C.-based poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts will share how a tragic death brought about a timeless piece of art.  She will also read selections from the poetry it has inspired.

Host: Carolyn Crouch, Founder, Washington Walks