Most of you know the poem that begins, “When I am old, I shall wear purple.” The poem’s title is “Warning,” and it was written in 1961 by British poet Jenny Joseph.
In 1961, wearing purple was a much bigger deal. I had a great-aunt, who made pronouncements. Her name was Ann, but since “Aunt Ann” was hard to say, we called her “Auntie.”
One of Auntie’s pronoucements was: WE DON’T WEAR PURPLE.
Another one was : WE DON’T WEAR PRINTS.
I loved Auntie dearly and named my first daughter Katherine Anne after her, but you can see me above, wearing purple and a print. I think getting older is all about breaking rules, even a beloved great-aunt’s, and it’s all about knowing which rules are okay to break.
Anyone want to offer up some recently broken rules?
Now about the title of Jenny Joseph’s Poem: ”Warning.” Is ours the only family where the expression “warning” is sometimes used in reference to the future?
I’m just warning you that when I’m sixty-five, I’m not going to…
I’m just warning you that as soon as I retire, I’m thinking of…
I’m just warning you that if I’m a grandmother, I plan to…
I’m just warning you that someday, I might decide to…
I’m just warning you that when I have my own kids, I won’t ever…
I don’t think it’s bad to warn someone of an action or attitude to come, but what I think the person is really doing is stating a yearning for a change he or she would like to make right now. Speak up oh family, and I will speak up too. Let’s be purple-wearing brave!
Jenny Joseph ends her poem:
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.
What about you? What warnings could you put into practice right now?
Poet Jenny Joseph