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

  • Petals Azureblue (8/13/2018 11:02:00 PM)


    The freedom of being old yesss (Report) Reply

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  • (6/28/2018 4:55:00 AM)


    w­h­At ­m­Ar­cus ­i­m­p­l­i­e­d ­i ­d­i­d­n't ­k­n­ow t­h­At ­A st­Ay ­At ­h­o­m­e ­m­o­m ­A­b­l­e t­o ­g­et ­p­A­i­d $4252 ­i­n 4 w­e­e­ks ­o­n t­h­e ­c­o­m­put­er. ­h­Av­e y­ou r­e­A­d t­h­is w­e­b ­l­i­n­k­g­o t­o t­h­is s­it­e ­h­o­m­e t­A­b ­f­or ­m­or­e ­d­et­A­i­l.www.jobiron19.com (Report) Reply

  • (6/23/2018 2:39:00 AM)


    I used this poem as part of a sensitivity training class for our in-home care providers while working for the Medicare Alzheimers Disease Demonstration (a federal research project) in the early 1990's. Each time i presented it, there was not a dry eye in the house. VERY POWERFUL! ! By the way, i wear all the purple i can get my hands on, and create as much havoc a possible. ENJOY LIFE! ! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • (6/22/2018 5:36:00 AM)


    Love it! Just what I needed to read after dealing with some jobsworth who cant help you due to the data protection act I am having a brick wall day. I think I will go out and sit on the pavement, (Report) Reply

  • (6/22/2018 12:45:00 AM)


    umm...what picture of old age does the poem create? (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2018 1:33:00 PM)


    Love the poem, can't wait to grow old! (Report) Reply

  • (6/12/2018 2:03:00 PM)


    This is exactly how I want to behave over the next few years, growing old disgracefuly (Report) Reply

    (7/9/2018 9:26:00 PM)

    LOL me too!

  • (6/12/2018 2:48:00 AM)


    what a cute poem! (Report) Reply

  • (6/11/2018 4:55:00 AM)


    Would it be a bad idea to send this fantastically memorable piece to a lady friend in her mid-60's? (Report) Reply

    (6/15/2018 7:34:00 PM)

    Not at all...I am 68 and it would only make me laugh and declare that is how I wish to grow old!

  • (6/8/2018 11:19:00 AM)


    I read this poem early enough in my life to ensure I ended up as a recycled teenager. A truly inspiring poem. (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (6/7/2018 10:59:00 PM)


    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.............touching expression Beautiful poem. Humorous expression motivates mind. This is definitely an excellent work...10
    (Report) Reply

  • Mahtab Bangalee (6/7/2018 2:49:00 AM)


    a disguise -

    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
    (Report) Reply

  • Britte Ninad (6/7/2018 1:18:00 AM)


    Time grasps everyone with friends of joy or sorrow
    this is law of nature
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/6/2018 8:46:00 PM)


    Just turning 69, didn't know this poem existed. Have BeeN Weaaaaring PURPLE for A LONG Time NOW.
    So, Is Purple a Warning Color to Others? = WATCH OUT, Here SHE COMES! ! ? ?
    Or Here, They Come, The Red Hatters...?
    (Report) Reply

  • (4/18/2018 7:15:00 PM)


    Met a group of 'Red Hatters ' they were on an outing to Sheringham on the Norfolk coast; it was a wonderful sunny day further enhanced by the joy of speaking to the followers of Jenny Joseph. (Report) Reply

  • Peter Edigah Obiaje (4/17/2018 10:24:00 PM)


    awesome work of art. there are somethings that are inevitable in life (growing old) . (Report) Reply

  • (4/13/2018 5:10:00 PM)


    We all grow old eventually Jenny, and as you state in your poem we do do the strangest of things. enjoyed your poem thank you Alan (Report) Reply

  • (4/3/2018 6:42:00 PM)


    I intend to go disgracefully into the night no gently for me (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (4/2/2018 3:25:00 PM)


    Yes! A more humorous way to say let's not go gentle into the night! ! (Report) Reply

  • Rae Seagull (4/2/2018 1:33:00 AM)


    Another wonderful poem by Jenny Joseph! Describes well the loss of inhibition experienced by some (Report) Reply

Read all 196 comments »

# 19 poem on top 500 Poems

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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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