Warning Poem by Jenny Joseph


Rating: 4.2

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.

Pat Townsend 07 December 2012

I love this poem as when my elder sister who is 87 made a comment which her family did not like she cried on the telephone and wished she could have retracted the statement, she helped my mother bring up a large family and always acted with decorum all her life, so I sent her a copy of this poem and told her to tell her family she was going to wear purple and buy a red hat and to expect much more to come! it really cheered her up

114 22 Reply
Souren Mondal 07 October 2015

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...

98 12 Reply
Shona 20 November 2021

I like your comment re. not living "three score years and ten, " perhaps we should all do what we want now, whilst we can!

3 0
Jasbir Chatterjee 16 February 2012

A wonderful poem, seems to be an English equivalent of the well-known phrase in Hindi Budhi ghodi lal lagam which loosely translated into English means Old mare with red reins!

53 30 Reply
Joeline Rayment 07 May 2013

This I like. Reminds me of an old saying.... Life is too short to wait until you are old to wear purple

60 14 Reply
Theresa Carter 14 September 2022

I love ❤ how she's declared warning. Realizing that now she is reasonably sane. But in her old age don't expect it. With age the mind can deteriorate, and she will find it freeing.

1 0 Reply
Chinedu Dike 27 June 2022

Deep and exquisitely crafted is this masterful poem of Jenny's.

0 0 Reply
Bharati Nayak 10 January 2022

A thought provoking poem.We are always expected to behave in certain way when we live in society.

1 0 Reply
Jayne Davies 09 January 2022

I love this poem, I feel like doing all of them right now! Lol x Well done. Five stars!

1 0 Reply
David Wood 09 January 2022

I love this poem to bits. I wish there were more people with your attitude. I have no intention of growing old gracefully but be a pain in the , particularly to those idiots we voted into office, and those who mess up the environment. Well done top marks!

0 0 Reply
Jenny Joseph

Jenny Joseph

Error Success