Letters . . .

Jan31

The Dark Path

One of the causes that Mark Twain become involved with was the cause of the adult blind.

His friendship with and admiration for Helen Keller inspired Twain to help raise money and awareness on the issue.

In 1906, Miss Keller asked him to read a letter she had written meant to inspire New Yorkers to give until it hurts. Mr.Twain described the letter as “moving and eloquent and beautiful”.

He proclaimed it a “classic of our literature”.  It read, in part:”  You cannot bring back the light to the vacant eyes; but you can give a helping hand to the sightless along their dark pilgrimage. You can teach them new skill.  For work they once did with the aid of their eyes you can substitute work that they can do with their hands.

“They ask only opportunity, and opportunity is a torch in darkness. They crave no charity, no pension, but the satisfaction that comes from lucrative toil, and this satisfaction is the right of every human being”.

Twain felt unworthy of the honor of reading the letter.  Helen Keller disagreed.  She knew her letter would be lifted up by the “eloquence of your kind voice”.

Mr. Twain always insisted that he was a pessimist .  Keller insisted that only an optimist could have become the new “ambassador to the blind”.  Once at a dinner function, Mark Twain was forced to leave early and as he walked by Helen Keller, he lightly patted her on top of her head.  She asked him to stop and do that again.

Feeling his fingers touching lightly the top of her hair, Miss Keller said,”Oh, it’s Mr.Clemens”.  Twain was never able to explain how Helen was able to recognize him by the touch of his hand.  Perhaps she could feel the wrinkles through the hair on her head?  He proclaimed himself “not competent” to figure it out.

He was not the first or the last to feel amazement at the abilities of Helen Keller.  All of us face challenges in our lives.  Can any among us imagine facing the world in eternal darkness, without the ability to hear or speak?  Even Mr.Twain found it difficult to be a pessimist after meeting Helen Keller.