Guide Works of Ada Cambridge

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After George Cross resigned from Williamstown in they returned to England. But after her husband died in , Cambridge returned to Victoria. She died at Elsternwick in Ada Cambridge's reputation suffered after her death because critics, looking for evidence of s nationalism, found nothing of interest in her works. However, feminist studies in the s and s demonstrated the radical explorations of Victorian society in Cambridge's poetry and fiction, particularly in her studies of marital love.

In response to these findings, new editions of her poetry and fiction have appeared, making her work more accessible to general readers. While Ada Cambridge is best known for her novels and poetry, she also published two significant memoirs, Thirty Years in Australia and The Retrospect. Ada Cambridge Cross Also writes as: I heard the riotous clamour; then the change To passionate minor cadence—then the sad And hopeless silence settle down; and then— I woke.

The flickering water-gleam was gone From off the ceiling, and white snows of light Fell softly on the marble walls and floors, And on the yellow head of little Kate Musingly bent down from the balcony. The lapping of the tide—the dip of oars— The sad, sweet songs, and sadder city bells, Mellowly borne along the water-streets: All-Saints' Day "But they are at peace.

No more of pain, no more of bitter weeping! The wheat-fields, crowned with shocks of tawny gold, All interspersed with rough sowthistle roots, And interlaced with white convolvulus, Lay, flecked with purple shadows, in the sun. The shouts of little children, gleaning there The scattered ears and wild blue-bottle flowers— Mixed with the corn-crake's crying, and the song Of lone wood birds whose mother-cares were o'er, And with the whispering rustle of red leaves— Scarce stirred the stillness. And the gossamer sheen Was spread on upland meadows, silver bright In low red sunshine and soft kissing wind— Showing where angels in the night had trailed Their garments on the turf.

Tall arrow-heads, With flag and rush and fringing grasses, dropped Their seeds and blossoms in the sleepy pool. The water-lily lay on her green leaf, White, fair, and stately; while an amorous branch Of silver willow, drooping in the stream, Sent soft, low-babbling ripples towards her: And oh, the woods! A dappled mass of glory!

Ada Cambridge Poems

Harvest-time; With russet wood-fruit thick upon the ground, 'Mid crumpled ferns and delicate blue harebells. The orchard-apples rolled in seedy grass— Apples of gold, and violet-velvet plums; And all the tangled hedgerows bore a crop Of scarlet hips, blue sloes, and blackberries, And orange clusters of the mountain ash. The crimson fungus and soft mosses clung To old decaying trunks; the summer bine Drooped, shivering, in the glossy ivy's grasp.

By day the blue air bore upon its wings Wide-wandering seeds, pale drifts of thistle-down; By night the fog crept low upon the earth, All white and cool, and calmed its feverishness. And veiled it over with a veil of tears. The curlew and the plover were come back To still, bleak shores; the little summer birds Were gone—to Persian gardens, and the groves Of Greece and Italy, and the palmy lands. A Norman tower, with moss and lichen clothed, Wherein old bells, on old worm-eaten frames And rusty wheels, had swung for centuries, Chiming the same soft chime—the lullaby Of cradled rooks and blinking bats and owls; Setting the same sweet tune, from year to year, For generations of true hearts to sing.

A wide churchyard, with grassy slopes and nooks, And shady corners and meandering paths; With glimpses of dim windows and grey walls Just caught at here and there amongst the green Of flowering shrubs and sweet lime-avenues. An old house standing near—a parsonage-house— With broad thatched roof and overhanging eaves, O'er run with banksia roses,—a low house, With ivied windows and a latticed porch, Shut in a tiny Paradise, all sweet With hum of bees and scent of mignonette. We lay our lazy length upon the grass In that same Paradise, my friend and I.

And, as we lay, we talked of college days— Wild, racing, hunting, steeple-chasing days; Of river reaches, fishing-grounds, and weirs, Bats, gloves, debates, and in-humanities: And then of boon-companions of those days, How lost and scattered, married, changed, and dead; Until he flung his arm across his face, And feigned to slumber. He was changed, my friend; Not like the man—the leader of his set— The favourite of the college—that I knew.

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And more than time had changed him. He had been "A little wild," the Lady Alice said; "A little gay, as all young men will be At first, before they settle down to life— While they have money, health, and no restraint, Nor any work to do. But this Was mystery unexplained—that he was sad And still and thoughtful, like an aged man; And scarcely thirty. With a winsome flash, The old bright heart would shine out here and there; But aye to be o'er shadowed and hushed down, As he had hushed it now.

His dog lay near, With long, sharp muzzle resting on his paws, And wistful eyes, half shut,—but watching him; A deerhound of illustrious race, all grey And grizzled, with soft, wrinkled, velvet ears; A gaunt, gigantic, wolfish-looking brute, And worth his weight in gold. Look at them; Had ever dog such eyes? And was he of the famed Glengarry stock?


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And in what season was he entered? Where, Pray, did he pick him up? He moved himself At that last question, with a little writhe Of sudden pain or restlessness; and sighed. And then he slowly rose, pushed back the hair From his broad brows; and, whistling softly, said, "Come here, old dog, and we will tell him. Bad luck was ours; For we had searched up corrie, glen, and burn, From earliest daybreak—wading to the waist Peat-rift and purple heather—all in vain!

We struck a track nigh every hour, to lose A noble quarry by ignoble chance— The crowing of a grouse-cock, or the flight Of startled mallards from a reedy pool, Or subtle, hair's breadth veering of the wind.

Reading Poetry - A Lesson by Ada Cambridge

And now 'twas waning sunset—rosy soft On far grey peaks, and the green valley spread Beneath us. We had climbed a ridge, and lay Debating in low whispers of our plans For night and morning. Golden eagles sailed Above our heads; the wild ducks swam about Amid the reeds and rushes of the pools; A lonely heron stood on one long leg In shallow water, watching for a meal; And there, to windward, couching in the grass That fringed the blue edge of a sleeping loch— Waiting for dusk to feed and drink—there lay A herd of deer.

It passed by, and left The burnies swollen that we had to cross; And left us barely light enough to see The broad, black, branching antlers, clustering still Amid the long grass in the valley. We might bivouac there to-night, And come again at dawn. There was light And warmth, a welcome and a heather bed, At Colin's cottage; with a meal of eggs And fresh trout, broiled by dainty little hands, And sweetest milk and oatcake. There were songs And Gaelic legends, and long talk of deer— Mixt with a sweet, low laughter, and the whir Of spinning-wheel. Right royal brutes, Whereon I gazed with envy.

They're priceless, they, and—Jeanie's favourites. But there's a litter in the shed—five pups, As like as peas to this one. You may choose Amongst them, sir—take any that you like. Get us the lantern, Jeanie. You shall show The gentleman. Not like the other lassies—cottage folk; For there was subtle trace of gentle blood Through all her beauty and in all her ways.


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  5. The mother's race was 'poor and proud,' they said. Ay, she was fair, my darling! She had the tenderest mouth you ever saw, And grey, dark eyes, and broad, straight-pencill'd brows; Dark hair, sun-dappled with a sheeny gold; Dark chestnut braids that knotted up the light, As soft as satin.

    Ada Cambridge - Ada Cambridge Poems - Poem Hunter

    You could scarcely hear Her step, or hear the rustling of her gown, Or the soft hovering motion of her hands At household work. She seemed to bring a spell Of tender calm and silence where she came. You felt her presence—and not by its stir, But by its restfulness. She was a sight To be remembered—standing in the straw; A sleepy pup soft-cradled in her arms Like any Christian baby; standing still, The while I handled his ungainly limbs.

    And Colin blustered of the sport—of hounds, Roe ptarmigan, and trout, and ducal deer— Ne'er lifting up that sweet, unconscious face, To see why I was silent. Oh, I would You could have seen her then. She was so fair, And oh, so young! They cannot mate With other than their kind, but woe will come In some shape—mostly shame, but always grief And disappointment.

    Ada Cambridge: colonial writer and social critic

    But she was different from the common sort; A peasant, ignorant, simple, undefiled; The child of rugged peasant-parents, taught In all their thoughts and ways; yet with that touch Of tender grace about her, softening all The rougher evidence of her lowly state— That undefined, unconscious dignity— That delicate instinct for the reading right The riddles of less simple minds than hers— That sharper, finer, subtler sense of life— That something which does not possess a name, Which made her beauty beautiful to me— The long-lost legacy of forgotten knights.

    Turn to Serialized Fiction. Some Episodes in his Life. Not All in Vain. The Making of Rachel Rowe. Thirty Years in Australia and The Retrospect.