Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

"Some Thoughts on Braille"

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

"Some Thoughts on Braille"

Article excerpt

"Some Thoughts on Braille," by T. S. Eliot, published in the December 1952 issue of New Outlook for the Blind, Volume 46, pp. 287-288.

After I read the invitation to share my choice of a "classic" JVIB article to be digitized within the "This Mattered to Me" series, my gaze immediately went to the bulletin board that hangs on the wall behind my computer. Among other personal treasures such as pictures of my grandchildren, buttons proclaiming the beauty of braille, and a fire department memorial patch, hangs a photocopy of one JVIB article that speaks personally to me.

I came across this article quite by serendipity. I was thumbing through bound volumes of JVIB and its predecessors, Outlook for the Blind and The Teachers Forum and New Outlook for the Blind, while researching communication for the blind for an article that would be published during JVIB's centennial celebration year. The author's name, T. S. Eliot, was one that was familiar to me, because of my high school and college studies in American literature. As a result, I was intrigued to find an essay entitled "Some Thoughts on Braille" written by the famous author and poet in JVIB. Too curious to continue my research, I sat there and read the essay. And I read it again. And then I asked the librarian if I could have a photocopy of the article. I knew I needed a keepsake of this literary finding, because in it, T. S. Eliot, in his inimitable poetic style, imparted to readers his reasoning for the significance of braille for people who are blind. Within the text of his two-page commentary, he challenged readers to carry on the work for the blind that Louis Braille initiated, and he offered suggestions as to how readers could contribute toward this goal.

In the essay, Eliot wrote about how the primary appeal of poetry should be to the ear. He emphasized that poetry is meant to be heard and read, and he commented on how incomplete one's appreciation of poetry would be if one never had access to the printed text. On the recitation of poetry, he explained from a personal perspective how a good orator provokes in him the desire to read the poem himself. He also suggested that the ability to read independently allows one intimacy with the poem itself. …

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