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

  • Joseph Harlacher (3/22/2018 12:58:00 AM)

    oh jenny how real this poem is to my own experience of age being earths distance and not at all how i feel (Report) Reply

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  • (3/20/2018 8:17:00 AM)

    My girlfriend had this read at her wedding and I've never forgotten it! I'm going to use in an ESL lesson here in France. (Report) Reply

  • (3/13/2018 12:32:00 PM)

    Best poem ever🐙💕🐽🇺🇸😍❤️ (Report) Reply

  • (3/13/2018 12:31:00 PM)

    Dirty poem must be stopped (Report) Reply

  • (3/9/2018 12:03:00 PM)

    wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww (Report) Reply

  • (3/6/2018 7:43:00 PM)

    Very touching (Report) Reply

  • (2/25/2018 7:21:00 AM)

    As a lifelong wearer of purple, I have just been introduced to this poem in the most unusual circumstances. I absolutely love it. It reminds me of my hidden self! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • (2/22/2018 8:17:00 PM)

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

  • (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

Read all 175 comments »

# 18 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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