Helen Maud Merrill (pen name Samantha Spriggins), a distinguished American poet, was born was born on this day May 5, 1865 in Bangor, Maine, and made significant contributions to the world of literature through her captivating poetry. Known for her keen observation of nature and ability to transform those observations into evocative verses, Merrill’s work resonated deeply with readers of all ages. Her unique poetic style and vivid imagery not only captured the essence of the natural world but also provided a glimpse into the human experience. Over the years, her work has been widely acknowledged for its impact on both the literary community and its readership.
Merrill’s career as a poet began when she started submitting her work to various publications. One such publication, St. Nicholas Magazine, played a pivotal role in her journey as a writer. St. Nicholas Magazine was a popular children’s magazine during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which focused on promoting high-quality literature for young readers. The magazine featured several well-known authors and illustrators of the time, providing a platform for emerging talents like Merrill.
Helen Maud Merrill’s association with St. Nicholas Magazine, and later with the Portland Transcript and the Gospel Banner proved to be fruitful as it helped bring her work to a larger audience and solidify her reputation as a poet. Her poems were characterized by their ability to seamlessly blend natural elements with profound insights into human emotions and relationships. This unique combination of nature and emotion served as an essential ingredient in creating poems that were both enchanting and thought-provoking.
When the Gulls Come In
When the gulls come in, and the shallow sings
Fresh to the wind, and the bell-buoy rings,
And a spirit calls the soul from sleep
To follow over the flashing deep;
When the gulls come in from the fields of space,
Vagrants out of a pathless place,
Waifs of the wind that dip and veer
In the gleaming sun where the land lies near,–
Long have they wandered far and free,
Bedouin birds of the desert sea;
God only marked their devious flight,
God only followed them day and night,–
Sailor o’ mine, when the gulls come in
And the shallow sings to the bell-buoy’s din,
Look to thy ship and the gods hard by,
There’s a gale in the heart of the golden sky.
-Helen M. Merrill
Curated by Jennifer