The poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph is a prediction and an optimistic look at the nature of age and society's interpretation of behavior. Joseph relates the things she plans to do when she is an old woman—which include wearing mismatched clothes and wasting money on brandy and fine clothing as well as spitting and just in general acting however she pleases.
She reasons in the poem that, when you're old, you get to do that sort of thing because you are no longer being judged. You have paid your debt to society by paying rent and being responsible, but when you're old you no longer have to set examples or care about what the world thinks. The optimism derives from the implication that old age is actually a beautiful thing, full of carefree whimsy and a "seize the day" attitude that follows from being freed from society's judgment.
At the end of the poem, Joseph finishes by musing that she should probably get some practice in for that day so that people aren't surprised. In that small way,...
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