Army Mom’s Safe Haven

Adelaide Anne Proctor

Adelaide Anne ProctorBorn October 30, 1825, died February 2, 1864: Adelaide Anne Procter was a poet and reformer. She was born in London, the first child of Bryan Walter Procter (‘Barry Cornwall’), a poet, and Anne Procter. Highly gifted as a child, she studied geometry, piano, drawing, French, German and Italian. Her early poetry was given to her parents’ literary circle in manuscript form. In 1853 she submitted poems to Charles Dickens’s Household Words, and in the following six years the magazine published many of her poems. Her poetry was also published in All the Year Round, Cornwall and Good Words, its popularity deriving from its mixture of nostalgia, moral idealism and emotionalism. ‘Philip and Mildred’ urges women not to live their lives in the shadows of men.

In her mid-twenties she became a Roman Catholic, and this influenced her writing. Her perception of social ills was always intermixed with a religious sensibility. Her devotional lyrics have been used in Catholic and Protestant hymnals, and A Chaplet of Verse (1826) was published as a benefit for England’s first Catholic refuge for homeless women and children. She and some feminist friends founded The English Woman’s Journal (1858) to urge women to enter the workforce as professionals. Her best-known lyric, ‘A Lost Chord’ appeared in the Journal. She worked tirelessly for better conditions for women in society, and was appointed by the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science to a committee which sought to discover ways for more women to enter the workforce. She died aged 39, and her contemporaries felt that overwork probably shortened her life. Charles Dickens wrote a memoir for her in 1866.

Adelaide Anne Proctor: FidelisFIDELIS

You have taken back the promise
that you spoke so long ago;
Taken back the heart you gave me –
I must even let it go.
Where Love once has breathed, Pride dieth;
so I struggled, but in vain
First to keep the links together,
and then to piece the broken chain.

Perhaps in some long twilight hour
Like those we have known of old,
when past shadows gather round you,
and your present friends grow cold,
You may stretch out your hands towards me –
Ah – you will, but I know not when.
I shall nurse my love and keep it,
faithfully, for you, til then.