By Philip R. Devlin
(January 17, 2023) — Born in Fair Haven in 1885, Mae Norton Morris, author and educator, often wrote and taught about the natural world. In 1967, she was named Humanitarian of the Year by the Connecticut branch of the Humane Society for her role in protecting the mourning dove by having it removed from the list of game birds. Interestingly, her obituary noted that memorial contributions in her honor could be made to the Norma Terris Nature Center in East Haddam.
Her 1929 children’s book, entitled Stay-at-Home Birds, was popular in its time and described the non-migratory birds of the Northeast that braved the chill of winter.
Though Morris began her career as both a teacher and principal in East Haven, she settled in the Essex area and often wrote poems about topics that interested her. Among those topics was the town of Haddam. She wrote a poem entitled “Haddam” which was published in 1939 in the long-defunct magazine called Connecticut Circle. Judging from the poem’s content, she had a strong familiarity with the town and perhaps had relatives buried here. Who knows? Here is the poem:
Rugged hills, sleepy hollows,
And beyond, the broad blue river
Slipping silently, blue and silver
Down to the Sound,
You have not changed;
You are the same
My forefathers knew
Now they rest in your meadows,
Your tall trees mark their resurrection,
So are my roots in your soil.
Candlewood Hill, Gunger Heights,
Beaver Meadow, Dish Mill Hollow,
And nameless little brooks
That hurry to the River,
You belong to me!
Never change, nor let man
Babble to you of progress,
Stay as you are, for the sake of those
And those who come after.