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The Virgin Martyr

Ada Cambridge 1844 (St Germans, Norfolk) – 1926 (Melbourne)



Every wild she-bird has nest and mate in the warm April weather,
But a captive woman, made for love -- no mate, no nest has she.
In the spring of young desire, young men and maids are wed together,
And the happy mothers flaunt their bliss for all the world to see:
Nature's sacramental feast for these -- an empty board for me.

I, a young maid once, an old maid now, deposed, despised, forgotten --
I, like them have thrilled with passion and have dreamed of nuptial rest,
Of the trembling life within me of my children unbegotten,
Of a breathing new-born body to my yearning bosom prest,
Of the rapture of a little soft mouth drinking at my breast.

Time, that heals so many sorrows, keeps mine ever freshly aching;
Though my face is growing furrowed and my brown hair turning white,
Still I mourn my irremediable loss, asleep or waking --
Still I hear my son's voice calling "mother" in the dead of night,
And am haunted by my girl's eyes that will never see the light.

O my children that I might have had! my children, lost for ever!
O the goodly years that might have been -- now desolate and bare!
O malignant God or Fate, what have I done that I should never
Take my birthright like the others, take the crown that women wear,
And possess the common heritage to which all flesh is heir?

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Ada Cambridge

Ada Cambridge, later known as Ada Cross, was an English-born Australian writer. She wrote more than 25 works of fiction, three volumes of poetry and two autobiographical works. Many of her novels were serialised in Australian newspapers but never published in book form. While she was known to friends and family by her married name, Ada Cross, her newspaper readers knew her as A. C.. She later reverted to her maiden name, Ada Cambridge, and that is how she is known today.  more…

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