“Old Man, Old Man” and “Warning” are similar in that they discuss about old age. However, they look on old age at different angles. “Warning” is about the rebellious instincts of a woman who will approach old age in the near future. It shows a humorous and looks at elderly women, and that the speaker is willing to challenge the stereotype, by doing things teenagers would do. “Old man, Old Man” has a more serious and depressing look at one man who becomes old.
The poem is about an elderly man who disconnects himself from reality, as he edges closer to death, despite his younger years, when he used to be an expert at DIY, and gets further away from his daughter, from who the poem is told by. In “Warning”, the point of view is provided by a woman warning the reader about her future: 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.
She warns that she will be different and that people who know her will not be scared about her challenging the stereotypical elderly woman. She is obviously very exited at becoming old, and challenges the look that old people are supposed to act in society: And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along the public railings Her repetition of the word ‘and’ shows she is rushing through all the things she will do when she is elderly which shows she is exited to grow old. Then, the poem slows down the tone:
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes But now we must have clothes that keep us dry At the end of the second stanza, and at the end of her exited tone she finishes with a long sentence, and starts the next stanza with a “but”, and this causes the reader to slow down, which causes a slower, disappointed tone to the story. She explains about what ‘society’ expects from an elderly woman, and adds sadness to the poem, which ruins her expectations of rebelling against stereotypes, which she is so eager to do.
The poem “Old Man, Old Man” immediately shows that the poem might be sad, as the repetition might indicate that the old man doesn’t want to admit he is old to himself. The daughter is also reminding him that she no longer knows him, as she might have called him dad or father. The poem is in third person, using words like ‘he’ and ‘himself’. The narrator shows herself to be his daughter: World authority on twelve Sorts of glue, connoisseur of nuts And bolts, not good with daughters. She tells the reader he was excellent at D. I. Y, by using exaggerations like ‘world authority and connoisseur’, but not well with her.
In his younger days, he was quite alive, and aware: … He was always A man who did-it-himself The narrator explains that he always did it himself, but this is represented in the past tense, in his earlier years. Now he seems to be unaware of the little things, like his daughter and is uncaring: He lives in a world of small recalcitrant Things in bottles, with tacky labels. After supper, and missing crusted streaks of food on plates;… He seems not to care anymore about the world, and does not even acknowledge the ‘things’ in bottles.
It shows he cannot remember or does not want to know what’s in these “things”. These could be drugs that old people take, or the nuts and bolts that he no longer knows anything about. He also does not care about ‘crusted streaks on plates’ however this may be because of his eyesight that is repeated as being poor throughout the poem: Now his hands shamble among clues He left for himself when he saw better He used to see better, but now he just ‘shambles’, his hands to look for things, which means he does not care anymore, or just cannot see things anymore.
In the poem “Warning” however, the woman does not think about the problems like eyesight, and isolation from society like in Old Man, Old Man. If anything, her rebellious actions, like wearing purple clothes, and bright hats that ‘don’t suit her’, suggests that she wishes to be noticed in society. She will spend her money differently on items that elderly women would not spend it on, like brandy, summer gloves and satin sandals. Her rebellious actions not only apply to her fashion sense, but she will also act like a stereotypical teenager: 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 … And learn to spit Her choice of vocabulary is also applied for a young child or teenager, as she uses slang, like ‘gobble’. Her actions as well, like spitting is a habit which teenagers do. Moreover, the reason why I talk about the woman as being middle aged, is that she is always talking about becoming old, and so cannot be old, but also is past being young, in which she was not rebellious, as in her own words ‘and make up for the sobriety of my youth’.
In the poem “Old Man, Old Man”, the narrator is reminding the old man and herself the old images of what he used to be like. “Warning” wants to change relationships; in “Warning”, the woman wants to change her image as a rebellious woman to her other ‘friends’. In Old Man, Old Man however, the narrator wants to change her image to show she is caring towards her father: Let me find your hammer. Let me Walk with you to Drury Lane Her pleading voice ‘let me… let me’ shows her willingness to help, and shows she wants to make a difference.
The fact that the poem has a sad atmosphere, because of the old man not caring about his daughter makes a very personal and effective sympathy arise in the poem for the daughter. Both poems show a stereotypical old age people. Warning deals with an old woman, and the fact that they are never rebellious: And pay our rent and not swear in the street And set a good example for the children. Like the stereotypical image, elderly women are always worrying about the children, perhaps because they remind them of their youth. They also have to meet deadlines, like paying the rent.
The poem shows us the funnier side of growing old. “Old Man, Old Man”, however, deals with a sadder aspect of growing old, like loss of vision, loss of memory, and really going mad: … Now you ramble on in your talk around London districts, fretting At how to find your way from Holborn to Soho. This is another stereotypical image of elderly people; the world ‘ramble’ seems to mean he is talking rubbish. Both poems are exceptional at showing us the ‘up’s and down’s of life,’ and growing old. The poems make us stop and think do we look forward to old age or not?