Literary Birthday - 19 September - Ingrid Jonker

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
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.' 

Jonker was a South African poet. She is often called the South African Sylvia Plath, owing to the intensity of her work and the tragic course of her turbulent life. Estranged from her husband, she had affairs with two prominent South African writers, Jack Cope and Andre Brink. Brink refused to leave his wife for her. On 19 July 1965 she walked into the sea and committed suicide by drowning.

Source for Image

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter.  


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate