Ingrid Jonker was born 19 September 1933, and died 19 July 1965
One of Ingrid Jonker’s most famous poems, The Child, was written after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre. President Nelson Mandela read it during the opening of South Africa’s first democratic Parliament, in May 1994.
The Child by Ingrid Jonker The child is not dead The child lifts his fists against his mother Who shouts Afrika! shouts the breath Of freedom and the veld In the locations of the cordoned heart The child lifts his fists against his father in the march of the generations who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath of righteousness and blood in the streets of his embattled pride The child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville nor at the police station at Philippi where he lies with a bullet through his brain The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers on guard with rifles Saracens and batons the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere the child grown to a man treks through all Africa the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world Without a pass
The face of love by Ingrid Jonker Your face is the face of all the others before you and after you and your eyes calm as a blue dawn breaking time on time herdsman of the clouds sentinel of white iridescent beauty the landscape of your contesses mouth that I have explored keeps the secret of a smile like small white villages beyond the mountains and your heartbeats the measure of their ecstasy There is no question of beginning there is no question of possession there is no question of death face of my beloved the face of love
Quote: ‘I know there are other things in life apart from love, but one has to have a basis to go out from. Without it, my whole wretched past lifts its dreadful head, and looks at me with that sad and wasted look which paralyses me with terror.’
Ingrid Jonker was a South African poet. She is often called the South African Sylvia Plath, because of the intensity of her work and the tragic course of her life. Estranged from her husband, she had affairs with two prominent South African writers, Jack Cope and Andre Brink, who translated her poems in this collection: Black Butterflies (Selected Poems). Brink refused to leave his wife for her. On 19 July 1965 she walked into the sea and committed suicide by drowning.
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