General Poetry posted January 4, 2019

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The Life and Legacy of an American Heroine

Helen Keller

by Mimi Linny

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Can you imagine
Just how it would be
If you lost total vision
And you couldn’t see.
How the dark would surround you
Without any light
And each 24 hours
Would all seem like night.
Would the sense of your hearing
Help you get through
All the jobs that your eyes
Should be able to do?
But can you imagine
If you couldn’t hear
And silence surrounded
The world you loved dear.
No music, no singing,
Or rhyming of words,
No hearing of laughter,
Or chirping of birds.
Your world is struck silent,
You’re lost and alone
In quiet and stillness
You never have known.
Would the sense of your vision
Help you to get through
All the jobs that your ears
Should be able to do?
But what if you lost
Both hearing and sight,
And silence and darkness
Encircled your life.
Not a voice could you hear
Nor a thing could you see;
Just how could you live
Without either of these?
Your three other senses of
Smell, touch, and taste
For your vision and hearing
Have now been replaced.
The challenge before you
Is how to achieve
And to overcome obstacles;
Learn to succeed...

Helen was a little girl,
So sweet and smart and kind
Until one day her world was changed
And she turned deaf and blind.
At almost 3, she couldn’t see
And not a sound could hear,
Not able to quite understand
Her world was filled with fear.
In anger she would throw a fit
And wild she learned to be
Forgetting all the things she’d learned
Before the age of 3.
Her parents loved their daughter so
And wanted her to learn
About the world around her, so...
To a special man they turned.
A well-known teacher of the deaf
We know his name quite well,
Inventor of the telephone...
Alexander Graham Bell!
Now Dr. Bell loved Helen
And how Helen she loved he.
And Dr. Bell told Helen’s folks
That he could plainly see
That there was hope for Helen
And a teacher he would send
To help this special child to learn...
Her "no-world" so to end.
At first she fought and didn’t like
The “Teacher” they did find,
But Annie Sullivan was tough
And Helen learned to mind.
A special finger alphabet
Her “Teacher” used to show
And wrote upon her tiny palm
Each letter she should know.
But how did Helen understand
What every letter meant?
Repeat, repeat, again, again,
Was how each day was spent.
Until one day while pumping out
Some water from a well,
Annie took young Helen’s hand
And 'water' she did spell
And cool and wet in Helen’s hand,
She held it ‘neath the spout
Then Helen took her Teacher’s hand
And Helen spelled it out...
W - A - T - E - R,
W - A - T - E - R,
Faster...once again...
Water, Water, everywhere...
Yes!  WATER had a name!
And it was from that moment on
That Helen didn’t rest
To learn the “name” of everything
She wanted to express.
And “Teacher” taught her ‘bout the world
Through touch and taste and smell,
And so to read by feeling letters
Raised above in Braille.
Then Helen quickly learned to write;
She learned so much so fast.
It was almost like a miracle,
Escaping from the past.
And word about this special child,
So swiftly it was spread
Reporters wrote her story
While the world about her read.
Helen never wished to stop
From learning something new -
Like reading lips
She learned to speak
As other people do.
And then she went to College
And made history once more...
With honors, she did graduate
At age of twenty-four.
She started writing books and then
She traveled all around.
And speeches gave with Teacher’s help,
She toured from town-to-town.
With hope to people everywhere,
About the blind she spoke,
And strong was voiced on women’s rights
And of their right to vote.
Outspoken and determined,
She gave people courage to
Believe they could accomplish
Anything they wished to do.
Then at the age of 83
The U.S. placed upon her
And decorated Helen
With the Nation's highest honor.
The Presidential Medal
Of Freedom was bestowed
By Lyndon Johnson, President,
In 1964
In June of 1968,
Dear Helen passed away
But left to us her legacy,
Admired still today...
A child who only knew the world
Through being deaf and blind,
This great and humble heroine's
Shared hope for all mankind.

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