I saw your mother
This presentation is the property of its rightful owner.
Sponsored Links
1 / 18

I saw your mother PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • 213 Views
  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

I saw your mother. By Jeremy Cronin. Jeremy Cronin. Jeremy Cronin was a member of the South African Communist party. He was arrested and send to jail. He spend some time on Robben Island. This poem is about his wife’s death while he was in prison. I saw your mother With two guards.

Download Presentation

I saw your mother

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript


I saw your mother

I saw your mother

By Jeremy Cronin


I saw your mother

Jeremy Cronin

Jeremy Cronin was a member of the South African Communist party. He was arrested and send to jail. He spend some time on Robben Island. This poem is about his wife’s death while he was in prison.


I saw your mother

I saw your mother

With two guards


I saw your mother

Through a glass plate

for one quarter hour

on the day that you died


I saw your mother

‘Extra visit, special favour’

I was told, and warned

‘The visit will be stopped

if politics is discussed.


I saw your mother

Verstaan – understand!?’

on the day that you died


I saw your mother

I couldn’t place

my arm around her,

around your mother

when she sobbed


I saw your mother

Fifteen minutes up

I was led

back to the workshop.


I saw your mother

Your death, my wife,

one crime they managed

not to perpetrate

on the day that you died.


I saw your mother

I saw your mother

With two guards

Jeremy is talking to his wife. He tells his wife that he saw her mother in prison. She was between two guards. This old lady needed the presence of two guards.

It gives you a sense of how strict they were at the prison and that the Apartheid government trusted no one.


I saw your mother

Through a glass plate

for one quarter hour

on the day that you died

He tells his wife that he saw his mother-in-law through the glass plate that was normally between visitors and prisoners.

He could only see her for 15 minutes. Normally you were allowed one visit per month for half an hour.

He won’t forget it, because it was on the day that his wife died according to him.

15 minutes


I saw your mother

This extra visit is a special favour. The moment you talk about politics it will be stopped.

Verstaan – Understand!?


I saw your mother

‘Extra visit, special favour’

I was told, and warned

‘The visit will be stopped

if politics is discussed.

Extra visit: prisoners were only allowed one visit per month for half an hour. This visit was not one that Jeremy Cronin expected.

Special favour: The prison authorities make it clear to the poet that they are doing him a favour by allowing this visit. This is almost sarcasm because the news that the poet is going to receive will take everything special out of this visit.

The visit will be stopped if they discussed politics: They were all political prisoners. All their conversations and correspondence with the outside world were meticulously monitored. The idea of keeping the people in prison were to get them away from organising or taking part in political events.


I saw your mother

Verstaan – understand!?’

on the day that you died

Verstaan – understand!? : Afrikaans is used because Afrikaans was labelled as the language of the opressor. It is therefore suitable that the prison guard would speak the language of the government he works for.

The word “Verstaan” also places the poem in context. You know that the poem is set in South Africa. Because the language is Afrikaans and used by the prison guard you may freely assume that the action takes place during the Apartheid years. This is confirmed by the fact that politics may not be discussed.

Note the repetition of the line: on the day that you died. This emphasises how horrible the news was for the poet.


I saw your mother

I couldn’t place

my arm around her,

around your mother

when she sobbed

His mother-in-law came to inform him about her daughter’s death. She was sad and cried. Ironically the poet wants to comfort his mother-in-law. He should be the one to be comforted because he hears the news for the first time.

He could not place his arm around his mother-in-law because there was a window between them.

The poet does not inform us about his feelings.


I saw your mother

Fifteen minutes up

I was led

back to the workshop.

Despite the horrible news he received, the prison authorities stuck to exactly fifteen minutes.

He was led back to the workshop after he received the news.


I saw your mother

Your death, my wife,

one crime they managed

not to perpetrate

on the day that you died.

He makes a statement at the end of the poem. He can not blame the government for his wife’s death. Although the government committed many crimes against the people of South Africa, the government did not kill his wife.

You can however feel bitter about the way this situation was handled by the prison authorities. This is implied.

The repetition of “on the day that you died” is ironic. This was not the day his wife died. He only received news of her death on this day but for him it became the day that she died.


I saw your mother

How did your wife die, Jeremy?

Jeremy: My wife died of a brain tumour. I was sentenced in September of ’76, so I was entitled to a half-hour visit once a month, and I saw Anne Marie for about 4 or 5 months and then … apparently she thought she was having a nervous breakdown, so she became quite disorientated and was having splitting headaches and so forth and was diagnosed as having a brain tumour, which I didn’t know about, because we hadn’t met, and the first I knew was when her mother came in to say she was going in for an operation and she basically didn’t survive the operation. So that was in March of 77, so it was very early on into the sentence. It was obviously very traumatic.


  • Login