Jenny Joseph

Warning - Poem by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Comments about Warning by Jenny Joseph

  • Veteran Poet - 1,656 Points Anitah Muwanguzi (11/24/2015 3:12:00 AM)

    hahhahaha this is simply stunning. Had to stop and stare. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 21,442 Points .., Rahman .., Henry (11/4/2015 1:08:00 AM)

    Good idea and extraordinary poem. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 11,382 Points Seema Jayaraman (11/2/2015 7:53:00 AM)

    The poetess expression of protest at straitjacketed society.. why wait till old age to do these things, live life to the full as you want and how you want. Good read. thanks. (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,066 Points Dutendra Chamling (11/2/2015 3:28:00 AM)

    Wow! wow! Wow!
    what a wonderful poem! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 12,620 Points Souren Mondal (10/7/2015 5:32:00 AM)

    I find this poem a beautiful one due to the use of the language and a very frank description of both youth and old age from a 'crazy', nay, honest perspective.. But what struck me most is the speaker saying that she must maintain a certain façade of etiquette of social norms while being young, and would eventually break free from that when she will be old.. However, it almost feels as if she would do neither, being young or old she would be under the scrutinies of the society and will be continually judged. Perhaps the poem is more of a 'dream' than a reality as it feels, to me personally, that the speaker knows well in her heart that she might never be able to live her life in her own terms.. And most importantly, how can one be certain that they will live 'threescore years and ten' and not die before? ?

    Either ways, to me, this poem is almost a critique of the pressure of maintaining a certain 'face', so to say, in the society and a will to find freedom from bogus, stereotypical social norms..

    A beautiful poem indeed... (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 597 Points Rishabh Sethia (9/15/2015 3:44:00 AM)

    What a warning.. Amazing :) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 469 Points Gauri Sharma (9/10/2015 8:44:00 AM)

    The frankness in the poetry says it all (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 21,442 Points .., Rahman .., Henry (9/5/2015 11:13:00 PM)

    Profound Poem. I love it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Fergus Nicolson (8/31/2015 8:58:00 AM)

    Only now that I am 70 does this poem make sense. Makes me sad for days gone by. A wonderful poem. All my pals are like this now. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,523 Points Briony Nicholls (8/28/2015 9:39:00 AM)

    I like the sentiment & theme of this poem very much but just feel it isn't expressed especially well from the point of view of poetical craftsmanship. Many lines sounds quite clunky and jarring (eg And learn to spit) . There is very little that endears me to this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 335 Points Vhulenda Maudu (7/28/2015 4:07:00 AM)

    Very niceAdd a comment (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,116 Points Abdalla Juma Shenga (7/16/2015 8:46:00 AM)

    nice poem. i love it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 181 Points Flora Losi (7/1/2015 8:04:00 PM)

    love this! amazing poem.. reminds me of grandma :) (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 537 Points Mohabeer Beeharry (6/18/2015 9:16:00 AM)

    It is lovely to be reading this writing. So much of feeling and insight in life.
    I really must learn from it.
    Could I invite you to read my poems. Thank you
    Mohabeer Beeharry (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,260 Points Phanice Wamukota (6/6/2015 7:26:00 AM)

    Its not nostalgia. Its the days she never had. And its beautiful (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 112 Points Nishu Sharma (5/8/2015 5:40:00 AM)

    Very nice (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,579 Points John Richter (2/6/2015 7:04:00 AM)

    Eric... I don't think this is a little crazy. How wonderfully she expresses her desire to become the child she was never able to be - after many, many years of towing the line, dotting her 'i's and crossing her 't's..... This poem, and I suspect Miss Jenny, are absolutely wonderful.. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,579 Points John Richter (2/6/2015 6:59:00 AM)

    OMG! I just fell in love! (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 7,657 Points Eric Ericson (11/12/2014 4:28:00 AM)

    sometime you just have to be a little crazy (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,000 Points Elizabeth Padillo Olesen (11/8/2014 5:03:00 PM)

    Honest portrayal of an aging human. Very realistic. Simple and true, a subject not usually taken up in poetry. (Report) Reply

Read all 109 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: purple, money, people, warning, woman, summer, children, rain, red, shopping, child, women, running, flower, friend

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Monday, July 30, 2007

[Hata Bildir]