Favourite Forever: Jenny Joseph, Rabindra Nath Tagore


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 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 peoples gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausage 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.

Jenny Joseph.

An Ordinary Women

Let me tell you something of myself.
I was then rather young,
Someone was touched
by the grace of the green age.

That knowledge used to send
A thrill through my body.
I forgot, I am rather ordinary.

There are thousands and thousands of women
Very much like me,
Those who have only
the magic of youthfulness

To show for their youth

I beg of you,

Write a story about an ordinary women.
She is long suffering.

If within the depth of her nature
Something uncommon does lie buried.

How would she prove it?

How many are there, who could even come to know it;
Most people’s eye are open only to the magic of age,
Their minds do not thurst for truth.

Rabindra Nath Tagore

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