Ingrid Jonker by Sally Bryer

‘Ingrid Jonker’ by Sally Bryer

Read the poem on page 244 of Seasons Come to Pass several times and then answer the

questions that follow. On page 216 of Seasons Come to Pass you will find a short biography of

the poet after which this poem is named. The inscription of Sally Bryer’s poem also provides you

with some context as to why this poem might be named after this poet.

1. Based on this biographical information about Ingrid Jonker, what do you expect this

poem to be about specifically?

2. Who is the ‘you’ the speaker addresses in line 1 (and throughout the rest of the poem)?

3. Why do you think the speaker compares the persona to a ‘hungry bird’ (line 2) and a

‘heron’ (line 3)? What is the significance of comparing her to these types of birds? What

is this type of comparison called?

4. Why do you think the speaker compares the persona in the poem to the Greek goddess

Persephone? (Look at the footnote on page 244 of Seasons Come to Pass to assist you

in answering this question.)

5. Ingrid Jonker wrote a poem called ‘The child who was shot dead by soldiers at Nyanga’

(Seasons Come to Pass, p. 216). Is there a reference to Jonker’s poem in this poem by

Sally Bryer? Explain.

6. In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker refers to ‘we’ (line 15) instead of just ‘you’.

Read this stanza carefully, and explain what the people are busy with here.

7. In this poem, Bryer also makes a number of references to a well-known poem written by

Ingrid Jonker, translated in English as ‘Escape’ (‘Ontvlugting’). The final two lines of

Jonker’s poem ends with the words: ‘Washed out my body lies in weed and grass/ in all

the places where we once did pass’. Do you see a link between these lines by Jonker,

and the final two lines of Bryer’s poem? Explain. (This is an example of an allusion. The

terms ‘allusion’ and ‘intertextuality’ are explained on page 142 of Introduction to English

Literary Studies.)

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