Woman Work by Maya Angelou
I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.
Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.
Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
‘Til I can rest again.
Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.
Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You’re all that I can call my own.
When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple 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 the flowers in other people’s 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 sweat in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.
I thought these poems were a nice contrast in terms of theme. I love the rhythm of Angelou’s poem–it has a nice beat to it if you read it out loud. And I like the idea behind Joseph’s of remembering to have fun. It reminds me of the saying that youth is wasted on the young. And, of course, we’ve already established how I do love a nice rhyming poem!