When I am an old woman

I love this poem – called ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph.


Maybe because it is a lighthearted look at old age an reminds us that there is actually something good about getting older – being able to wear purple with a red hat!

There are many website now where you can find this poem – and even buy magnetic red hats or the poem printed on a canvas tote bag or a tee-shirt:-)

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.

Jenny Joseph


4 thoughts on “When I am an old woman

  1. you’re far too young to begin to even think about practising being an old woman!!! i’ll make sure i buy you lots of purple and red when you are though. xx

  2. I accessed your blog and saw this poem. It was my mother’s favorite poem. Ironically she died today. The same day I saw this poem, is the same day she died. She had been very sick since July. I will read this poem at her funeral on Wednesday. Thanks for posting this poem. I would have forgotten about this poem. She loved it. Maureen

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