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Thursday, July 20, 2017 12:17 am

Letters to the Editor 7/20/17



Now that Springfield’s Amaranth Apple Festival has come and gone, we ought to learn something about the origin of the name.

The fictional apple, sadly unavailable from orchards or grocers, grows only in Vachel Lindsay’s The Golden Book of Springfield, his 1920 narrative work envisioning a utopian Springfield developed between 1918 and 2018. His poetic prose ranges from simply fanciful to mystical, but always beautiful.

Edgar Lee Masters offered a condensation of Lindsay’s narrative in his work titled Vachel Lindsay: A Poet in America. Here is an excerpt about the apple from Masters’ abridged interpretation:

“Then Anne Morrison, the florist, told how the book was revealed to her. First she saw the days of Johnny Appleseed returned, for in this Mystic Year Springfield had fully developed the Great Amaranth Apple Orchards, from seeds given by Hunter Kelly, one of the founders of Newtown, Calhoun or Springfield, as the first chapter of this book recounts. Now he who ate of the Amaranth Apple was filled with love of eternal beauty, and Springfield had taken it as its symbol. In 2018 one of the teachings in Springfield was democracy, of which was the Golden Rain Tree, brought from New Harmony, Indiana.”

In Lindsay’s book, there are numerous appearances by the Amaranth, a staple of life within his dancing vision. Here is an Amaranth passage taken at random:

 “I see Avanel on her dancing pony of white fire, surrounded by her devoted maidens, while dim and shadowy multitudes of branches of the Amaranth-Apple, made gigantic to shade the Universe, bend above the far off ministers of stately cosmic festival.”

I have not read The Golden Book of Springfield yet, but I intend to. From what I can gather, Lindsay seems purposed to present history wishfully and blissfully, perhaps hopefully. It weaves an underlying message worthy of discovery and thoughtful perusal.

If I am wrong in my novice portrayal of Lindsay and his work, I invite correction from people who know better. I offer here no more than my own first fruits of discovery about Amaranth Apple.

John Levalley


As reported in the July 13 issue of Illinois Times, the Amaranth Apple Festival was Saturday, July 15. If anyone missed last year’s story about Illinois’ upcoming bicentennial, the Amaranth Apple was a fictitious fruit in Vachel Lindsay’s only novel, The Golden Book of Springfield. In his book, the star on Springfield’s city flag represents the blossom of the Amaranth Apple.

Everything I’ve read about that book claims it’s a utopia, but I don’t consider a society where there are knifings, shootings, lynchings, a man being deliberately set on fire and a world war in any way “utopian.”

It’s speculative fiction, but not science fiction – he envisioned steam locomotives still being used today! It’s actually a fantasy.

If anyone would like to read it, I’ve posted the entire book, with a foreword, for free and with no advertising, at http://mcgrewbooks.com/Lindsay.

Steve McGrew


Congratulations Mrs. Rasmussen! It’s good that your new boss, the governor, is paying you $180,000 a year.

After two years of doing everything he could to wreck the state, failing to draft a balanced budget not once but three times, wrecking the Grand Bargain twice and blaming everything, especially his inexperience, on his opposition, Mr. Rauner really needs someone who will give him good advice.

Not that Rauner is good at listening, but he needs to know that while Midwesterners are law abiding and polite, they also pay close attention to what people do and they have seen him ignore his duty, seen him refuse to cut spending, seen him use his money to fund primary opposition to members of his own party, seen him use his money to flood the state with fake news from fake newspapers and bully his own party while running a never-ending reelection campaign by which he hopes to make voters believe that he will finally fix things.

You are likely the governor’s “huckleberry.” Your previous employer, the Illinois Policy Institute, once published a proposed budget that slashed costs by cutting almost everything. If you can sell that idea to the people, leverage the votes to pass it into law – and make everyone comfortable with pitiful schools, worse roads and fewer services – you will have earned that paycheck.

Matthew Vernau


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