Warning

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.

by Jenny Joseph

Other poems of JOSEPH (1)

Comments (212)

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
I have loved this poem since I was in college (1980?) . I am so happy that it took off and became a society of Red Hat Ladies!
Dear Jenny. A wonderful poem. The words alive and true.
Old is a aging number but mind is evergreen, here i see.
This is a great charming poem about life habits and looking forward to being old and all the benefits of it. Very optimistic and charming. Why hasn't she been on here in so long? I'd like to hear how things are going being that this was sixteen years ago!
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