Monday, August 27, 2012

Allerton Park, where 'The Sun Singer' Began

pmschlenker photo on Flickr
"On October 14, 1946, Robert Allerton gave to the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois part of his homestead, 'The Farms,' near Monticello in Piatt County, Illinois, to be used by the University as an educational and research center, as a forest and a wild-life and plant-life preserve, as an example of landscape architecture, and as a public park." - "Robert Allerton Park," U of I brochure, 1951.

I visited Allerton Park with my parents and grandparents in the early 1950s and, while I liked the woods and trails, I took away stronger memories of the park's unique collection of sculpture placed throughout the grounds. I liked the Garden of the Fu Dogs, the Hidden Goldfish Pond and the Peony Garden. I especially liked the bronze statue of The Sun Singer that sculptor Carl Milles created in 1930. The statue in the park is a replica (created by Milles) of the original Sun Singer in Stockholm.

broken thoughts photo
Milles created the Sun Singer as a memorial to Swedish poet Esaias Tegner and his poem "Song to the Sun." The poem opens with these lines:

"I will sing unto the
O thou radianty sun,
High aloft on thy throne
In the deep, azure night,
With worlds left and right
As thy vassals. Below
In thy glance they may glow;
But their light thou must be."

While I have never had an opportunity to return to Allerton Park, my novel The Sun Singer re-creates my long-ago powerful transcendent experience of standing in the meadow next to the statue. The Sun Singer is both an adventure and my song to the sun. It begins in Decatur, Illinois where my grandparents lived, shifts to Allerton Park, and then shifts again to Glacier National Park, Montana. The park is widely known for its scenery and its famous Going to the Sun Road. A perfect place, I thought, for my contemporary fantasy about a young man's dangerous trek into worlds left and right that shine with magic light.


Contemporary fantasy for your Kindle

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