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

  • (9/30/2016 11:36:00 AM)

    As I get older I seem to think of purple as my new favourite colour, almost! (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (9/18/2016 2:23:00 PM)

    Funny cute and sweet. Delightful. I want to be old like that. (Report) Reply

  • Mizzy ........ (9/9/2016 1:07:00 PM)

    A delightful read....Great post! (Report) Reply

  • (7/4/2016 2:30:00 PM)

    Spoken like a true rebel! She certainly gives us Oldies plenty of good ideas! Must plan ahead.
    A very funny and delightful poem!

    Tom Billsborough
    (Report) Reply

  • Fog Runner (6/29/2016 7:13:00 AM)

    I love this spirit of looking on the bright side of life :) (Report) Reply

  • Jane Urhobocha (5/19/2016 6:31:00 AM)

    So funny and so true (Report) Reply

  • Anne Yun (4/20/2016 2:38:00 AM)

    when i am old i shall be like her, definitely, so i ought to practice a little now! (Report) Reply

    Halin Roche (4/26/2016 10:53:00 AM)

    right! !

  • (3/19/2016 6:56:00 AM)

    Impact of old age and revisiting childhood and it's notions in it are wonderfully depicted in this unique poem. Thanks for sharing.10 points. (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (3/19/2016 1:43:00 AM)

    Life is to live the way you feel good about, Nice poem, thanks for sharing, . (Report) Reply

  • Judith Blatherwick (2/14/2016 3:50:00 PM)

    Brilliant poem. It exactly describes how I intend to be when I am old. Wonderfully eccentric and throwing off the strait jacket of convention. If only I was brave enough to start now! (Report) Reply

  • Rajesh Thankappan (2/1/2016 10:44:00 AM)

    A rebellious streak turning apparent with ageing! Alarming! But let the bottled genii be set free! (Report) Reply

  • Anitah Muwanguzi (11/24/2015 3:12:00 AM)

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

  • .., Rahman .., Henry (11/4/2015 1:08:00 AM)

    Good idea and extraordinary poem. (Report) Reply

  • 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

  • Dutendra Chamling (11/2/2015 3:28:00 AM)

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

  • 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

  • Rishabh Sethia (9/15/2015 3:44:00 AM)

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

  • Gauri Vyas (9/10/2015 8:44:00 AM)

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

  • .., Rahman .., Henry (9/5/2015 11:13:00 PM)

    Profound Poem. I love it. (Report) Reply

  • (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

Read all 119 comments »

# 20 poem on top 500 Poems

User Rating:
4.2 / 5 ( 556 votes ) 118

Read this poem in other languages

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

[Report Error]