POETRY FRIDAY: “Warning” by Jenny Joseph (Video)

PoetryFridayButtonBy Elaine Magliaro

I often enjoy reading poems that have touches of humor in them. I found one such poem in an anthology that I bought over twenty years ago. The anthology, When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, gets its title from the first line of Jenny Joseph’s poem Warning.

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Here is the first stanza of the poem:

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 flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

Click here to read the full text of the poem.

Jenny Joseph reads her poem Warning

NOTE: Jenny Joseph is an English poet. She was born in 1932. Warning is Joseph’s best-known poem. She wrote it in 1961. Warning was identified as the UK’s “most popular post-war poem” in a 1996 poll by the BBC.

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8 Responses to POETRY FRIDAY: “Warning” by Jenny Joseph (Video)

  1. blouise17 says:

    This is one of my favorite poems. I used to tease my daughter’s with it. I still haven’t learned how to spit.

    I have several friends who belong to chapters of the Red Hat Society.

  2. I was thinking about her just a couple of days ago. She used to appear on NPR All Things Considered, frequently. Both witty and wise.

  3. Elaine M. says:


    We should start a Purple Pants or Purple Suit Society. Whaddya think?

  4. blouise17 says:

    I’m in!

  5. blouise17 says:

    Gene is going to look kinda scary

  6. Elaine M. says:


    Gene? You think green and purple would clash?

  7. blouise17 says:


    Well, yeah. But it’s all those rolls hanging over the belt that frightens me … and the smile. Adding purple to the mix could very well deny us entrance to a dinning establishment.

  8. I’m heading there — I have a lot of purple and also a red hat, but I’ll use yellow garden clogs for dancing in the rain.

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