(This post isn’t repeating text from my BW-feature, it’s me rambling about my process adn focussing on a couple of particular excerpts of Helen Keller’s writing.)
I really enjoyed researching for this weeks #authorstory post. I included some resource links, the ABF Helen Keller archive, articles and recommended some video links too. But I most enjoyed reading some of Helen Keller’s work, so much so, that I made my first public podcasts, reading excerpts from a couple of pieces of her writing. If you can spare a few minutes to have a listen and like to hear attempted readings of poetry and prose, I’d love to receive feedback and criticisms are very welcome 🙂
I also thought that a couple of audio files might be assistive for visually impaired readers, so recorded and uploaded those to my post (part 1 approx 10mins, part 2 approx 5 mins). Then decided that I needed to provide transcripts too, as pages hosted at my other blog, The Wishing Well. Note to self: work still to do at that transcript! As well as sorting out the pre-formatted text formatting in the top section, there’s a paragraph repeated in part ii of the text citing different paragraphs on each. Oh, when I can’t see for looking!!! (and doing things while exhausted makes for many a mistake!) Please, dear reader, if you go there, forgive me – I’ll catch up soon-ish 🙂
I selected some paragraphs of Keller’s 1903 essay, Optimism and really quite like the condensing as an abridged version but also plan to revisit the full texts and study them in more depth, at some point. There are links to the various formats full texts online sources on the transcript for my reading – and it’s wonderful to see digitised versions of the original book pages.
Helen Keller’s intelligence and command of language is absolutely astounding. I think I should read my abridged version every day to strengthen my resolve.
I, too, can work, and because I love to labor with my head and my hands, I am an optimist in spite of all. I used to think I should be thwarted in my desire to do something useful. But I have found out that though the ways in which I can make myself useful are few, yet the work open to me is endless. .. Darwin could work only half an hour at a time; yet in many diligent half-hours he laid anew the foundations of philosophy. … it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. [from part ii, para.26]
Here’s another favourite excerpt from that same text:
These things which you see and hear and touch are not the reality of realities, but imperfect manifestations of the Idea, the Principle, the Spiritual; the Idea is the truth, the rest is delusion.
I realised when i began to research, that although Helen Keller’s name was familiar to me, I had forgotten any prior learning of who she was. I expect that when we heard small mention of her in school it would have been a very brief introduction, telling us what an incredible person and writer she was, but not actually sharing her work. It was probably one of those 300 words of contextual information and a set of comprehension questions on a workcard. It seems such a shame – and apparently that’s still a common experience, according to replies in the comments to my post at Blogger’s World.
The second piece of Helen Keller’s writing I selected to read from is her magnificent poem, ‘Songs of the Stone Wall’, published in 1910. The transcript is here (and hopefully without error) and the audio file of my reading from this work is labelled as Part 2 on the BW-feature post. This was one of my favourite moments in the poem:
At the foot of the aged pines the maidens moccasins
Track the sod like the noiseless sandals of Spring.
Out of chinks in the wall delicate grasses wave,
As beauty grew out of the crannies of these hard souls. [from verse 12]
So, I came here not to write another few hundred words, but have enjoyed doing so, it seems.
I’d love to hear from you if you’re familiar with Helen Keller’s work and have any recommendations, or your own favourite moments in her work, or for any other feedback or discussion.
I wont be posting here often, while I work out how and why I am doing whatever next with this blog that I keep mulling over… so for now, and until next time… I hope you’re having a good day 🙂