Jenny Joseph

(1932 / Birmingham)

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

  • (2/22/2018 8:17:00 PM)


    Totally delightful! I shall try to live up to her standards! (Report) Reply

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  • (2/15/2018 3:18:00 AM)


    Reading this poem makes me release myself...Thanks... (Report) Reply

  • Dr.tony Brahmin (2/10/2018 2:49:00 AM)


    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..facts of life and a warning to all who become old..... greatness and readiness to face it......... thank you dear poetess. tony
    (Report) Reply

  • (2/5/2018 12:17:00 PM)


    Bet you are wearing purple now. I have loved Warning and embrace it more every day. Will miss you. (Report) Reply

  • (2/3/2018 6:31:00 AM)


    Such a pity to see, following the author's recent death, the most popular post-War poem in the United Kingdom blighted by a typographical error (or just plain ignorance) and a robotic delivery. (Report) Reply

  • (2/3/2018 4:52:00 AM)


    How sad Jenny Jospeh has departed: the older I get the more heartening I find this poem. It's comfy slippers indoors for me always! (Report) Reply

  • (1/29/2018 2:15:00 AM)


    I shall follow in your wake. Goodby dear friend. (Report) Reply

  • (1/27/2018 8:28:00 AM)


    I just read that Jenny Koseph has died. Great great poem - especially as I am now 70 myself (Report) Reply

  • (1/25/2018 9:15:00 AM)


    i love this poem and i dont even like poems. (Report) Reply

  • (1/24/2018 4:33:00 AM)


    I wear purple a good deal but learn poems and do crosswords to keep my brain going maybe that’s the difference between life and poetry (Report) Reply

  • (1/23/2018 10:51:00 AM)


    I like it but I am to stick in the mud to try. (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2018 6:27:00 AM)


    I love this poem. reminds me of my nan (Report) Reply

  • (1/17/2018 4:53:00 AM)


    This is me. NOW. Age 66. Perfect (Report) Reply

    (1/21/2018 4:05:00 AM)

    She died the other day

  • Susette Varga (1/16/2018 3:41:00 AM)


    Hhahahah loving this and purple is my favourite colour and i think i shall join you! very very good x (Report) Reply

  • (1/10/2018 3:54:00 PM)


    Too old to care and to old to worry,
    Seems to fit well
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/29/2017 10:12:00 AM)


    sometimes you just want to say the hell with all, especially at an older age :) (Report) Reply

  • (12/18/2017 5:12:00 AM)


    The tag of being old clearly gives us license to be somewhat crazy, and, as the poem says, wear purple and other colors that clash with it calculatedly. (Report) Reply

  • (12/15/2017 10:14:00 AM)


    Oh, I love it so much. I need to read this every day. (Report) Reply

  • (11/29/2017 6:05:00 AM)


    this is quite funny. (Report) Reply

  • Sakalabaktula Sairaj (11/16/2017 5:54:00 AM)


    so nice but it was so big and heart torching (Report) Reply

Read all 169 comments »

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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


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