When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am 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 the 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 pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts 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 practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

— Jenny Joseph

3 Comments on “Warning”

  1. Catherine Morris

    Michelle, this poem made me cry. I’ve read it before — in a high school English or college poetry class, I forget which — but I think I kinda rolled my eyes at it then. I must be getting older, cuz now I just teared right up. Thanks for posting.

  2. Michelle

    I like it too. I read somewhere that this is the favorite poem of the British people, though that’s probably exaggerating. Still, it’s jolly, and if the right mood strikes – as it must have for you – sad too. Very British!

  3. peoplepowergranny

    The election is getting closer! My suggestion: Let’s all dye our hair to go with our political persuasion for the next couple weeks. Right now my hair is purple because I’m neither one. Vote in my poll at peoplepowergranny.blogspot.com, and let me know what color you would like to be in the next few weeks. And I would suggest it not be black or white!


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