I love this poem for many reasons. For the way it reminds me of my late grandmothers (both of them). For the way it makes me think of my own mother and her eccentricities. It's sweet and innocent and full of wisdom. Perhaps the most resounding is to not wait until you are an old woman to get free and be totally ridiculous. You are alive right now, so go ahead and give yourself that liberty to enjoy life.
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.