Poetry Turnst(y)le: Ingrid Jonker

Ingrid Jonker (1933 – 1965) was a South African poet who wrote predominantly in Afrikaans.

From the little I have read her childhood and family life seem to have been ever marked by abandonment, familial estrangement and unfulfilled romantic relations. In 1965 she went to the beach in Cape Town, walked into the sea and drowned. Not a terribly gay life.

According to some write-ups Ingrid is something of an icon in South Africa and often compared to Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf for the intensity of her writing and the tragedy of her life. There is a nice article about her on this page, here.

I love this poem of hers. The last five lines are particularly beautiful. I want to wish they were a stanza.


When you write again


When you write again in your diary


To see the golden leaf in the summer sun

Or perhaps the blue rock-orchid

On one of our absent wanderings

On Table Mountain

I who have mingled my blood with the blood of

The sun at evening in Lisbon

Have carried you with me like a mirror

And I have written you

On the open page

Of my desolation

Your nameless word

When you write again in your diary


To see in my eyes

The sun that I now cover for always

With black butterflies.


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