Sam Bean and his upcoming graduation from the California School for the Deaf and Blind in Berkeley, the newspaper issued another report. Thankfully correcting the date of the impending high school festivities in the process, the article’s purpose was actually to announce a feature of the program. “Young Bean,” the newspaper declared, “is the most remarkable member” of his class and “is the first student with a double handicap of his kind to accomplish the seemingly impossible feat.”
Though the wording hardly strayed from typical journalistic style—other than, admittedly, the continued hyperbole—I could sense a tremor of anticipation in the line that explained,
Incredibly, this now deaf and blind student was going to read aloud, in a public gathering, a poem of his own creation. Oh, how I wish I could have been there to hear it—or at least that someone would have had the technical ability to have recorded the rendition.A voice which he has not heard since he was 16 years old will pronounce the words of his poem at the coming exercises.
Though there was really no way anyone could share in Sam’s “sensations of living in a world of blindness and silence,” the poem was his message, standing in the gap between his school days and an unknown future. While the prior week’s news article had characterized Sam as having “an unclouded vision of life,” the title Sam gave this poem conveys a different perspective.
Facing the Battle of Life
Let me pause upon the thresholdFacing life, where school days end:While happy thoughts so trailing backward,Hope inspires my future trend.My greatest lessons learned through trialsSolving life’s perplexing sums,Have tested worth of strength and courage—Steeled my soul to meet what comes.Though double cross be mine to shoulder,God I’ll trust to lead the wayFor spirit reigns and crowns the victor,Makes him ruler of this clay.With dauntless faith and firm conviction,Knowing all that is, is best:Resolute I face the future,Full of cheerful hearty zest.Clouds and shadows though deceiving,Truth and wisdom cannot hide:Conquest comes to him who conquers—Him who braves the raging tide.Farewell teachers, friends and comrades.Oft sweet memory shall recall,All your treasured deeds of kindness,Gratefully I thank you all. ~ Samuel William Bean, May 26, 1919