Letter to Anne Sullivan Macy from Helen Keller (March 16, 1917)
Transcription of Letter
Montgomery, March 16, 1917.
I don't know when this letter will reach you, as the strike of the railroad brotherhoods has been called for tomorrow, and I am not sure that you will be here on the 14th of April. So I am taking this chance to tell you how I thank God at the remembrance of you on your birthday. Would it might be as beautiful, as entirely joyous for you to remember as the day is for me when you gave birth to my mind! Yes, whatever the menace of the years may be, my faith will speak. May the cruel tree of your sorrow put forth glowing blossoms of joy! May new strength and triumph wait upon you! May the sunshine of love still lie warm upon your brave life and you, my precious Teacher.
Polly's letter with the sweet message from the Porto Rico (sic) woods came Wednesday. It is uncanny how keenly I have felt all the delight and loveliness of your paradise, how I have adored it despite the unrest and anxiety about you that surrounded me, and how sad I feel now at the thought of your leaving it. It does not seem, as if I had been away from you all this weary while; it seems as if I had dwelt with you in your wee camp, talked with you daily and touched your face many times a day in sheer gladness at your contentment. This verse expresses my thought as really as if I had been there bodily.
"There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright water meet;
Oh! the last rays of feeling and life must depart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.
Yet it was not that Nature had shed o'er the scene
Her purest of crystal and brightest of green;
"Twas not her soft magic of streamlet or hill--
Oh no! it was something more exquisite still.
'Twas that friends, the beloved of my bosom, were near,
Who made every dear scene of enchantment more dear."
I wish we could stay longer, until your soul was so wrapt in the glory of our "joy isle" that your rough days of trial and heartache seemed as if they had never been! Perhaps in the face of all objections to an enervating climate that we hear, Porto Rico (sic) has done you a world of good, and it may be as well for you to remain until the heat of summer drives you away.
I don't want to leave the shack with all its adventures and gleeful associations either. But if we must, perhaps we can camp out in the Adirondacks or in Colorado.
Truly I want to shake myself out of this war and hear again the whispered messages from a happier world. Dreams are my only refuge from a life in which I have no part or lot.
I had a wonderful dream this morning. You and I stood, methought, on the ghastly battle-fields of Europe. The living were all retrating (sic) with a tumult that stunned our senses. The dead lay piled around us--pillowed upon each other, and O my God, they were all young. One instant we gazed upon their marred, broken bodies, and our hearts seemed about to burst. Then they changed and the fury, the agony, the cruelties of war vanished. Angels were bending over those young forms and touching their foreheads. Beauty and light stole back into the marred faces, the shattered limbs became straight and whole, and the still hearts began to throb with revived joy. It was as if all the pain-throbs of the father-heart, all the tears of motherhood, all the warm kisses stored up in childhood's, treasuries, all the pleadings of lonely young lives cast away, all the deeds of love wrought faithfully unto the death had taken shape and stood around us, a shining host sanctifying that spot, that day. Under their pure hands the guns mouldered away, and the hates aid wicked devices of all the warring powers fell at their feet ashamed. Vast multitudes of men and women gathered, fearless of cannon and death-raining steel towers, to minister to the young who had fallen and to those who were left mourning. Forgetting party, church, race, they raised a universal cry, "Cease slaying one another, we stand or fall here, now, we move not hence until you open the door of the poor hearts you have hunted and rekindle the home fires you have extinguished." It was a world of old people, women and babes pitted against a world of blood, naked valor of love against armed savagery! Rather than perish with their wives, mothers and little ones, the armies dispersed, enemies embraced weeping, and the battle-fields of Europe were again the world's precious granaries of life and joy.
I have just been down for dinner. We spoke of the strike. It is worrying Mildred, as she may have to buy provisions in advance. Of course I am with the railroad men; I wish the government would take over our industries. That seems the only logical thing to do.
Here is some pleasant news. You probably remember Miss Josephine Krisler, the girl with whom we drove in the Memphis suffrage parade. Well, we read in yesterday's paper that she had succeeded in getting a bill passed to establish a commission for the blind of Tennessee. Isn't that fine? The south is waking up to the needs of its blind at last. That was a most interesting letter from Professor Walters. I shall answer it.
I enclose a pleasant letter which I have answered from a lady who heard us in Burlington, Vermount, and who visited Marjorie here this winter. I went walking with her several times, and her conversation was a joy to me, so interesting, so varied and full of enthusiasm. We all wanted to know her better. She has travelled almost everywhere, and her mind is a rich storehouse of experience and sympathy. She is both charming and cultivated, quite a reformer, they say. As you will see from her letter, she is a great friend of Allan Benson.
What do you think happened to Warren sometime ago? He was out birdhunting. It was so misty he couldn't see very far. He thought once that he saw a bird a good way off and fired. Imagine his horror when the bird turned out to be a man thowing (sic) up his arms and shouting, "My God, I'm shot." Warren couldn't stir for a moment. But he found the man wasn't hurt at all.
I must stop now to mail this letter. With untold love to yourself, and with a hug for Polly, I am (sic)
Your affectionate (sic)