Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Future Verdict ~ Ada Cambridge

Ada Cambridge - not one of poetry's most familiar names, but a prolific poet and novelist of late 19th early 20th century. She was born in Norfolk, England into a fairly well-to do and deeply religious family, married a minister of the Church of England, Rev. George Frederick Cross. They emigrated to Australia soon afterwards. As a clergyman's wife in the Australian Bush, in those days, life was hard. They moved home frequently. Several of her children died in childhood, or later. There's an interesting piece, her obituary, re-printed from the Sydney Morning Herald of July 1926.

In spite of all her duties, her griefs and travails, Ada Cambridge still found time to write. Though a dutiful wife, she developed many misgivings about religion, and about married life, some of which eventually spilled out into her poetry as Unspoken Thoughts, much to the distress of her husband.

After her husband's death she returned to England for a time, but eventually went back to Australia and her remaining family. She died in 1926.

Born on 21 November 1844, with Sun in late Scorpio (emotional and intuitive), Mercury in early Sagittarius. Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius was in harmonious trine to Sun from Pisces. This blend of Jupter/Sagittarius/Pisces reflects well her connection to religion and long-distance travel - both connect strongly to Jupiter and Sagittarius. With no time of birth known, Moon's exact position isn't clear, but it'd be in Aries and more than likely opposing Mars and/or Venus in Libra: a reflection, perhaps, of her unspoken discontent.

Her poem, below, isn't one of her unspoken thoughts, but it's one which uncannily echoes the spoken and unspoken thoughts of many today:

The Future Verdict
by Ada Cambridge

How will our unborn children scoff at us
In the good years to come —
The happier years to come —
For that, like driven sheep, we yielded thus,
Before the shearers dumb!

I know the words their wiser lips will say; —
“These men had gained the light,
These women knew the right;
They had their chance and let it slip away.
They did not when they might.

“They were the first to hear the gospel preached,
And to believe therein —
Yet they remained in sin;
They saw the Promised Land they might have reached,
And dared not enter in.

“They might have won their freedom, had they tried;
No savage laws forbade —
For them the way was made.
“They might have had the joys for which they cried;
And yet they shrank, afraid.

“Afraid to face an honourable shame,
The most they had to pay —
Of what the world would say —
Not of the martyr's portion, rack and flame.
Great God! what fools were they!”

And oh! could we look backward from those years
When we have ceased to be,
This wasted chance to see,
Should we not also cry, with bitter tears,
“Alas! what fools were we!”


Wisewebwoman said...

Her words could apply to today so well. Thanks for the introduction, what an extraordinarily fearless woman - no mean feat to go against her husband in those days!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Indeed! Yes, I keep being amazed at how apt are some old poems for today - it goes to show, I suppose, that nothing much really changes, only the case and scenery differ. ;-)