Jenny Joseph and I met through the mail in 1990. Her poem, “Warning,” was read by Ann Richards (then governor of Texas) on TV program “Sunday Morning.” I loved the poem and wrote to Jenny. We became friends. “Warning” was written in 1961.
Jenny proposed a book idea and came here to Maine to visit and write. She selected photos for our book, “Beached Boats,” from her visit and my two trips to her home in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, a village in the Cotswolds region of the United Kingdom.
The book was printed and published in 1991 by Enitharmon Press, London. Jenny now lives in Wales but writes less due to some physical limitations.
The cover photo (above) was made at Barrett Park and remains one of my favorite images.
I'd like to share Jenny's 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.
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.
Jenny was always pleased to have visited here. She enjoyed the people and places of our kind village.