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5 March 2008


This late afternoon post is for Ciara who has not yet read the wonderful poem, Warning.

, this is the poem Warning from which the book in the precious post's photo gets its title. It's an old poem that's become quite famous over the internet. The book it comes from is a collection of short stories and poems.

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 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 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.

Taken from the book When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
edited by Sandra Martz
Papier Mache Press--Watsonville, California 1987


  1. Hi Rhonda
    Thx for that it's definitely thought provoking. I must see if I can get my hands on a copy of the book to read the rest.
    Hope you're having a good day. I find your blog so inspiring to read. Thx

  2. Nice poem.
    I'm only 46. Wearing purple, and wearing tea cosy hats, comfortable shoes and undies, ... lovely. Possibly embarassing the children (unlikely given our circumstances), worse still the 'partner'.
    Dear me, what ever will I be like if I get to be really ancient.
    Had a "down to earth" day ( Lemon Cordial and soap making). That is, apart from spending the $89 for the childrens' metronome!
    Still enjoying your blog.

  3. My mom used to have that poem. I haven't read it in a long time. Except it seems like it was a slightly different version.

  4. I've loved this poem for years and years. I also have the book. I think people will be shocked when I start to wear purple!!! :)

  5. I wear purple... lots of it... and I'm only 37. I wonder what I'll wear when I'm old ~ Dear God, preserve me! LOL!!!

  6. I so love this poem!
    I just love your blog:)

  7. I bought this book for my mum when she turned 60, along with a purple hat and gloves!

    She absolutely loved it...

  8. I just loved this poem. Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Hi Rhonda,
    Oooooh I must be getting old!!!!! And loving it!!!!!! This is what inspired the Red Hat society which started in America and has spread across the world. The women meet monthly to 'grow old disgracefully'. Rules are that you must wear purple with a red hat! Thank you for this.

  10. My mum discovered this poem some years ago and it is a standing joke between us. We often mention "wearing purple" and "learning to spit" and giggle. Thanks for posting it to remind of it :)
    Best, Becca.


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