Thursday, May 31, 2012

When I Am an Old Woman

This is a photo of my Great Aunt Dot (Augusta Larsen).  She was a talented milliner who made beautiful hats, but she also had a sense of whimsy.

Today (my 59th birthday) as I contemplate old age, I thought I would share this gem of a photo with you, along with one of my favorite poems about aging.  It was written by Jenny Joseph, an English poet, in 1961, and published her 1974 collection Rose In the Afternoon.  It is also included in The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse.


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 beer mats 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.
Jenny Joseph

LeAnn aka pasqueflower


  1. Hey, happy birthday to you, LeAnn! Age is all relative anyway, I say. I had a friend when I lived in Prescott who was 54 at the time, wore a bikini to the beach and got her navel pierced.

    I'm not a fan of the physical aging process, but I do love the wisdom, accumulated life experiences, and shifting of priorities that come about as we get older.

  2. Happy birthday! Great idea for a birthday post.

  3. Happy Birthday! It's also Sue's birthday at News 'n Views!

    I adore this poem you shared. I think I'm ready to start doing some of that right now!

    Hope your day is happy!

  4. What a great post!!
    Happy Birthday!! And many happy returns!

  5. Happy Birthday! Your Aunt Dot looks like she had a fun spirit! Love the poem too : )

  6. I love the photo. I have a picture of my Grandma in my craft room, back in the flapper days. It's my favorite pic of her.

    Also love the Red Hat poem. I have an aunt who is a member and you should see the cool things they do! They go on cruises, trips, and she even went zip linig recently! She's in her 80's!

  7. This makes me so happy! Plus I totally wore a purple skirt today hahaha

  8. haha - There is a cowgirl version of this that has a bit less fashion and a bit more horse hair and denim ;-)

  9. Love the poem and the picture! My birthday is soon, in June, and I will be a bit older than you. I say that I will be "officially old", so I enjoyed the poem!