K is for Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan #AtoZ Challenge
Helen Keller, 8 with tutor Anne Sullivan on vacation in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
R. Stanton Avery Special Collections
Jan wrote in the book about Helen Keller – watching a film of her as she ran her hand over Anne Sullivan’s face, to ‘feel’ the way Anne was using her muscles to make sounds.
I wrote about Anne Sullivan, who taught Helen Keller to communicate. The following is the entry in the book for my poem:
Helen Keller lost both her sight and her hearing as a baby. She became very frustrated as a child until her family employed Anne Sullivan, who cleverly found ways to help her communicate. Anne was Helen’s teacher and companion until she herself died – by then, she had enabled Helen to get to college, learn to type, speak, get married, tackle issues such as women’s suffrage, and write a book.
And here is the poem:
Anne Sullivan, teacher to Helen Keller
I started with the word for doll,
finger-spelling on her hand.
This child could neither hear, nor see —
how could I make her understand?
To fill the space for song and bird,
all that sound and light explain;
out of reach did not exist
and dark and silence had no name.
Until I spelled into her hand
under a pump — though deaf and blind,
the word for water and the water
flowed together in her mind.
That living word grew in her hands,
gave her ways to hear and see,
let in hope and joy and love
with words that set her free.
© Liz Brownlee
If you’d like to read similar entries about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book this has been taken from, Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!
Reaching for the Stars.
- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2017 ♦ Extraordinary Women ♦ Liz Brownlee ♦ Poems ♦ Reaching the Stars ♦ Reaching the Stars Poems
- Tagged: Anne Sullivan, Deaf/blind, Extraordinary Women, Helen Keller, Jan Dean, Liz Brownlee, Michaela Morgan, Poems about extraordinary women and girls, Reaching the Stars, Teacher