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Looking in the Fire

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

The snow falls soft and thick. My cedar bough
Sways up and down, and scratches on the glass.
The wind sighs in the chimney, as I sit,
With elbows on my knees, before the fire,
Resting a crumpled chin in hollow'd palms.

There is great trouble in the cold and dark;
And other girls shrink off and steal away,
To crouch in lonely rooms and look at fires,
And look at their dead joys and living griefs,—
But they are pitied. None would pity me.

Friends come to seek them, and lay tender hands
On their bow'd heads and sore and restless hearts.
They find the wound, and drop the healing oil;
They lift the burden off, or make it light.
But they would smile, unless they laugh'd, at mine.

O still, warm fire, you will not bubble up
In mocking flames,—your heart will soon be cold!
O wind—for you have seen the roses bloom,
And the shrunk petals fall and drift away—
You hear, and sob and sigh as you go past!

Is unrequited love so sad a thing?
Ay, ay,—but this is even sadder still;
To want to love, and not to have the power—
To meet your king at last with empty hands—
To be so young, and to have squander'd all!

Alas, alas! to know your wine is sour—
To have loved wrong, with love despoil'd of trust,
Dishonour'd love, that mix'd itself with hate,—
To see the pearl of price laid at your feet,
And know your wealth is gone for dross and lies!

Ay, 'tis the saddest thing to want to love,
To want to cling, when you have lost your strength—
To feel the ashes choking up the hearth,
And think how bright a fire there might have been,—
To know when you are loved, too late—too late!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:35 min read

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…

All Ada Cambridge poems | Ada Cambridge Books

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