The Gift of Poetry: A Love Story

ingrid jonker book

My last blog post featured a story that I was gifted by a stranger… She had told me of the loss of her husband and the gift of a watch, and what the watch now meant to her, how dear it was to her, how close to her heart… I’ve been pondering on this for some time.

My gift to this generous women, I have decided, will be Wednesday Appreciation Day on Humble Pie. It’s not a shabby idea. I urge you to try it out. Every Wednesday, readers will have a love story of my own, dedicated to a gift in my life that I hold close.

Today’s gift, is the gift of poetry.

I have a friend who, given any, and I mean any (!) situation, never fails or falters. He is blessed with the innate ability to bring me back to my centre, to bring me back to a place of calm in stormy seas. When I was in the Donkin being treated for my psychotic break, this friend made a special trip with his fiance at the time, now his beautiful wife. And he gave me a very special gift. It is the selected poems of Ingrid Jonker, translated by Andre Brink and Antjie Krog, Black Butterflies. It is inscribed with his words, the words of someone who loves me, as all gifted books should be.

It reads:

Dear Joc

I always suspected you were a bit crazy. Now with the stay in the Donkin — all suspicions confirmed! (In any case, you’re in good company. Some of my favourite people of all time went off the edge for a spell.)

I guess its easy to joke now, now that you’re okay, now that you’re back. But stay with us, my dear friend. You’re such a special, gifted person. Look after yourself.

All my love


Reading Ingrid Jonker’s poetry, it is no wonder that the collection of letters between her and her lover, in such a beautiful hard cover edition, have been entitled Flames in the Snow. It seems so fitting.

I opened my own collection of her poetry to see what Ingrid had to say this morning, what she would like me to share with you, my readers, and this is what she had to gift you.

I searched for my own heart 

By Ingrid Jonker

I searched for my own heart

and long after I had lost my way

in the days trailing past with their foliage

in the aloof sky blue with distance

I thought I’d find my heart

where I’d kept your eyes two brown butterflies

and I saw the swallow swoop up

and shadows starling

Photo credits: Janet Frances Fryer To follow her on twitter: @janetfrancesfry 

Alternatively, if you’d like to see some of the beautiful art work she does, this incredibly talented mother of mine, visit her site,


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