Wednesday, April 29, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 29

Jenny Joseph

Jenny Joseph (born 7 May 1932) is one of the UK's foremost living poets.

She was born in Birmingham, and studied English literature at St Hilda's College, Oxford, before becoming a journalist. She has worked for the Bedfordshire Times, the Oxford Mail and Drum Publications (Johannesburg, South Africa).

Her first collection of poetry was published in 1960. The poem entitled Warning, a witty poem about growing old, is her most popular work, and the inspiration for the Red Hat Society. A BBC poll found it to be the most popular 20th Century poem.

In 1995, she was awarded a travelling scholarship by the Society of Authors. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


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 sandles, 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.

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