Helen Keller Quotes 1–30 of 80 Quotes

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American writer and social activist; an illness (possibly scarlet fever or meningitis) at the age of 19 months left her deaf and blind.

Below are 30 of 80 sourced Helen Keller quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#1

Quote source: Address to the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf at Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (8 July 1896), quoted in supplement to The Story of My Life

“I want to say to those who are trying to learn to speak and those who are teaching them: Be of good cheer. Do not think of to-day's failures, but of the success that may come to-morrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere, and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles — a delight in climbing rugged paths, which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometime slip backward — if the road was always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. Sometime, somewhere, somehow we shall find that which we seek. We shall speak, yes, and sing, too, as God intended we should speak and sing.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#2

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#2

Quote source: Address to the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf (8 July 1896)

“The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart. We sightless children had the best of eyes that day in our hearts and in our finger-tips. We were glad from the child's necessity of being happy. The blind who have outgrown the child's perpetual joy can be children again on Christmas Day and celebrate in the midst of them who pipe and dance and sing a new song!”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#3

Quote source: "Christmas in the Dark" in Ladies Home Journal (December 1906)

“The bulk of the world’s knowledge is an imaginary construction.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: The Five-sensed World (1910)

“We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond the senses.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#5

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#5

Quote source: The Five-sensed World (1910)

“The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus — the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#6

More on this quote: Letter to Dr. James Kerr Love (1910), published in Helen Keller in Scotland: a personal record written by herself (1933), edited by James Kerr Love. Paraphrasing of this statement may have been the origin of a similar one which has become attributed to her:
Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.
 • See also FAQ at Gallaudet University

“Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.… You ask for votes for women. What good can votes do when ten-elevenths of the land of Great Britain belongs to 200,000 and only one-eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#7

Quote source: Letter published in the Manchester Advertiser (3 March 1911), quoted in A People's History of the United States (1980) page 345.

“Some years ago I met a gentleman who was introduced to me as Mr. McKelway, editor of the Brooklyn Eagle … At the time the compliments that he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for Socialism he reminds me and the public that I am deaf and blind and especially liable to error.… The Eagle and I are at war. When it fights back, let it fight fair.… It is not fair fighting or good argument to remind me and others that I cannot see or hear.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#8

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#8

Quote source: "How I Became a Socialist", New York Call (3 November 1912)

“Our puny sentimentalism has caused us to forget that a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and to the world.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#9

Quote source: Quoted in, The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of "Defective" Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures since 1915, (1996), Martin S. Pernick, Oxford University Press, New York, NY., Part I: Withholding Treatment, ch. 4, Eliminating the Unfit: Euthanasia and Eugenics, p. 92, https://books.google.com/books?id=IJJVYrnImOsC&pg=PA92&dq=%22our+puny+sentimentalism%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=q2xmVd7AL4XPsAX43ICoAw&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22our%20puny%20sentimentalism%22&f=false citing New York Call Magazine, November 26, 1915, p. 5. https://books.google.com/books?id=gQfbAAAAMAAJ&q=%22call+november+26+1915%22++++black+stork&dq=%22call+november+26+1915%22++++black+stork&hl=en&sa=X&ei=d25mVfC4DoGLsQXDnYHgCg&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA Compare: "The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race." - Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History (1922), Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, p. 49. https://books.google.com/books?id=AdcKAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA49&dq=laws+of+nature+require+the+obliteration+of+the+unfit+and+human+life+is+valuable&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q15mVcfBCsfusAX-0IDQCg&ved=0CCIQ6AEwATgU#v=onepage&q=laws%20of%20nature%20require%20the%20obliteration%20of%20the%20unfit%20and%20human%20life%20is%20valuable&f=false ("Hitler thanked Grant for writing the Passing of the Great Race and said that 'the book was his Bible.'" See, Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (1994), Stefan Kühl, Oxford University Press, ch. 8, p. 85, https://books.google.com/books?id=UGYfRv3DWuQC&pg=PA85&dq=Leon+Whitney,++bible+grant&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DmZmVdSkC4eRsAXtiIHQCw&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Leon%20Whitney%2C%20%20bible%20grant&f=false Kühl cites: Leon Fradley Whitney (1894-1973), unpublished autobiography, 1971, Whitney Papers, APS, 204-5. https://books.google.com/books?id=NiX6ol8VO0oC&pg=PT264&dq=unpublished+autobiography+of+Leon+F.+Whitney,1971,+Whitney+Papers,&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VmlmVZz3BMX7sAXBjYAI&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=unpublished%20autobiography%20of%20Leon%20F.%20Whitney%2C1971%2C%20Whitney%20Papers%2C&f=false Compare also: "As a result of our modern sentimental humanitarianism we are trying to maintain the weak at the expense of the healthy," Adolph Hitler, as quote in A.E. Samaan, From a "Race of Masters" to a "Master Race": 1948 to 1848, Create Space, p. 318.

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“Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#11

Quote source: "Strike Against War", speech in Carnegie Hall (5 January 1916)

“Self-culture has been loudly and boastfully proclaimed as sufficient for all our ideals of perfection. But if we listen to the best men and women everywhere … they will say that science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#12

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#12

Quote source: My Religion / Light in My Darkness, Ch 6 (1927)

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#13

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#13

Quote source: We Bereaved (1929)

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: "Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy", Joseph P. Lash (1980)

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#15

Quote source: We Bereaved (1929)

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#16

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#16

Quote source: Let Us Have Faith (1940)

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 30 July 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#17

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#17

Quote source: The Open Door (1957) This quotation is often contracted into: Security is mostly a superstition... Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. or paraphrased: Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

“I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#18

Quote source: Quoted in Henry More: The Rational Theology of a Cambridge Plattonist (1962) by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, page 100.

“No doubt the reason is that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#19

Quote source: Helen Adams Keller (p. 60. Helen Keller's Journal: 1936-1937, Doubleday, Doran & company, inc., 1938)

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“Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: As quoted in the Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (13 April 2003)

“The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me. I am filled with wonder when I consider the immeasurable contrasts between the two lives which it connects. It was the third of March, 1887, three months before I was seven years old.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 4

“Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. "Light! give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 4

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Some one was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten — a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away. I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house every object which I touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had come to me.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#24

Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 4

“I had now the key to all language, and I was eager to learn to use it. Children who hear acquire language without any particular effort; the words that fall from others' lips they catch on the wing, as it were, delightedly, while the little deaf child must trap them by a slow and often painful process. But whatever the process, the result is wonderful. Gradually from naming an object we advance step by step until we have traversed the vast distance between our first stammered syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of Shakespeare.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 6

“I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word, "love." This was before I knew many words. I had found a few early violets in the garden and brought them to my teacher. She tried to kiss me: but at that time I did not like to have any one kiss me except my mother. Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, "I love Helen." "What is love?" I asked. She drew me closer to her and said, "It is here," pointing to my heart, whose beats I was conscious of for the first time. Her words puzzled me very much because I did not then understand anything unless I touched it. I smelt the violets in her hand and asked, half in words, half in signs, a question which meant, "Is love the sweetness of flowers?" "No," said my teacher. Again I thought. The warm sun was shining on us. "Is this not love?" I asked, pointing in the direction from which the heat came. "Is this not love?" It seemed to me that there could be nothing more beautiful than the sun, whose warmth makes all things grow. But Miss Sullivan shook her head, and I was greatly puzzled and disappointed. I thought it strange that my teacher could not show me love.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#26

Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 6

“Miss Sullivan touched my forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, "Think." In a flash I knew that the word was the name of the process that was going on in my head. This was my first conscious perception of an abstract idea. For a long time I was still … trying to find a meaning for "love" in the light of this new idea. The sun had been under a cloud all day, and there had been brief showers; but suddenly the sun broke forth in all its southern splendour. Again I asked my teacher, "Is this not love?" "Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out," she replied. Then in simpler words than these, which at that time I could not have understood, she explained: "You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play." The beautiful truth burst upon my mind — I felt that there were invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirits of others.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#27

Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 6

“Virgil is serene and lovely like a marble Apollo in the moonlight; Homer is a beautiful, animated youth in the full sunlight with the wind in his hair.”

— Helen Keller

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Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 21

“Ruth is so loyal and gentle-hearted, we cannot help loving her, as she stands with the reapers amid the waving corn. Her beautiful, unselfish spirit shines out like a bright star in the night of a dark and cruel age. Love like Ruth's, love which can rise above conflicting creeds and deep-seated racial prejudices, is hard to find in all the world.”

— Helen Keller

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Keller, Helen. “Helen Keller Quotes: 1–30 of 80 Quotes.” Last modified July 30, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Helen-Keller-quotes.html#29

Quote source: The Story of My Life (1903) Ch. 21

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