"The Song of the Stone Wall"
By Helen Keller

Helen Keller sitting on a stone wall with a braille book on her lap while Anne Sullivan Macy leans against the wall, 1904. Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, 1904

Come walk with me, and I will tell
What I have read in this scroll of stone;
I will spell out this writing on hill and meadow.
This is New England's entablature of rock,
Leagues upon leagues of sealed history awaiting an interpreter.
It is a chronicle wrought by praying workmen,
The forefathers of our nation.
The walls have many things to tell me,
And the days are long. I come and listen;
My hand is upon the stones, and the tale I fain would hear
Is of the men who built the walls,
And of the God who made the stones and the workers.

With searching feet I walk beside the wall;
I plunge and stumble over the fallen stones;
I follow the windings of the wall
Over the heaving hill, down by the meadow-brook,
Beyond the scented fields, by the marsh where rushes grow.
On I trudge through pine woods fragrant and cool,
And emerge amid clustered pools and by rolling acres of rye.

The wall is built of field stones great and small,
Tumbled about by frost and storm,
Shaped and polished by ice and rain and sun;
Some flattened, grooved, and chiseled
By the inscrutable sculpture of the weather;
Some with clefts and rough edges harsh to the touch.
Gracious Time has glorified the wall
And covered the historian stones with a mantle of green;
The sunbeams flit and waver in the rifts,
Vanish and reappear, linger and sleep,
Conquer with radiance the obdurate angles,
Filter between the naked rents and wind-bleached jags.

I understand the triumph and the truth
Wrought into these walls of rugged stone.
They are a miracle of patient hands,
They are a victory of suffering, a paean of pain.
All pangs of death, all cries of birth,
Are in the mute, moss-covered stones;
They are eloquent to my hands.
O beautiful, blind stones, inarticulate and dumb!
In the deep gloom of their hearts there is a gleam
Of the primeval sun which looked upon them
When they were begotten.
So in the heart of man shines forever
A beam from the everlasting sun of God.
Unresponsive, rude are the stones;
Yet in them divine things lie concealed.
I hear their imprisoned chant:

"We are fragments of the universe,
Chips of the rock whereon God laid the foundation of the world;
Out of immemorial chaos He wrought us.
Out of the sun, out of the tempest, out of the travail of the earth, we grew.
We are wonderfully mingled of life and death;
We serve as crypts for innumerable, unnoticed, tiny forms.
We are manifestations of the Might
That rears the granite hills unto the clouds
And sows the tropic seas with coral isles.
We are shot through and through with hidden color;
A thousand hues are blended in our gray substance.
Sapphire, turquoise, ruby, opal,
Emerald, diamond, amethyst, are our sisters from the beginning;
And our brothers are iron, lead, zinc,
Copper, and silver, and gold.
We are the dust of continents past and to come,
We are a deathless frieze carved with man's destiny;
In us is the record sibylline of far events.

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