Lola Ridge was a poet and champion of the working class. Politically active before socialism became fashionable among New York intellectuals, Ridge participated in protests, marches, and pickets with ferocious spirit. Throughout her life she suffered illnesses, eventually dying of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1941, yet her writing is vigorous and electric. She was, as Peter Quartermain described her, “the nearest prototype in her time of the proletarian poet of class conflict, voicing social protest or revolutionary idealism.”
Lola Ridge was born Rose Emily Ridge on December 12, 1873, in Dublin, Ireland. She was Joseph Henry and Emma Reilly Ridge’s only surviving child. When Rose was 13, Emma took her to New Zealand. At the age of 21, Lola Ridge married Peter Webster, a gold mine manager. When their marriage failed, she left and enrolled at Trinity College in Sydney, New South Wales. There she studied painting at the Academie Julienne with Rossi Ashton and began writing poetry. Unfortunately, she destroyed most of these early literary efforts, but some remain at the Mitchell Library in Sydney.
by Lola Ridge
Dreams only change their houses.
They cannot be lined up against a wall
And quietly buried under ground,
And no more heard of…
However deep the pit and heaped the clay –
Like seedlings of old time
Hooding a sacred rose under the ice cap of the world –
Dreams will to light.