Ada Cambridge (21 November 1844 – 19 July 1926 / St Gemans, Norfolk)
An Old Maid's Lament
Every wild she- bird has nest and mate in the warm April weather,
But a captive woman, made for love — nor nest, nor mate 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.
Life's great sacramental feast for them — 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 baby unbegotten,
Of the breathing new- born body to my yearning bosom prest
Of the rapture of its 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 irremidiable loss, asleep or waking —
Still I hear my child's voice calling “Mother” in the dead of night,
And am haunted by those sweet eyes that will never see the light.
O my baby that I might have had! My darling, 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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