How do the two poets of the poems ‘Old Man, Old man’ and ‘Warning’ present different ways of facing the crossroads of ‘old age’? Throughout our lives we encounter many crossroads of life. These could be starting school, getting a new job, moving house or getting married but one of the main crossroads in life is old age. For some people old age is a good crossroads in life where they can make a fresh start and do things they have missed out on in their younger years.
For others old age is not something to look forward to as we change mentally and physically, often for the worst and things begin to make less sense to us.
‘Old man, Old man’ is an example of the disadvantages of becoming older and shows the way we handle becoming less in control of our lives and changing mentally and physically. ‘Warning’ on the other hand is an example of the advantages of old age and how we often use old age to do things we wouldn’t normally be able to get away with or to catch up on things we have missed out on, even just as a long holiday.
In ‘Old man, Old man’ the poem focuses on reality for the old man in a way in which he has very little if any control over his life and he appears to be stuck in his own little world which is no longer mobile.
It seems a narrator who appears to have known the old man when he was younger and now is looking at him in old age writes the poem itself. ‘Warning’ on the other hand is a fantasy of the freedom old age gives from the point of view of a younger woman. Looking at the title of ‘Old man, Old man’ it shows that he is no longer seen as an individual but just an old man and by calling him old man it is in some ways referring to not just him but also many other old men in the same situation as him.
The repetition of the word ‘Old man’ indicates him having to be told things twice in his old age and is said in quite a regretful tone. In comparison the title ‘Warning’ is quite up beat and although warning suggests danger in this case it is not for her but for other people and her family. It is different to ‘Old man, Old man’ in the way that it is a young woman’s idea of old age and ‘Old man, Old man’ is reality. The language of old man old man shows the reality of how he has lost the control he used to have over his life physically and mentally.
He used to be the man of the house ‘a man who did-it-himself ‘ and was very independent but now he needs help even with small things like opening bottle tops indicating arthritic hands. The poet also makes it seem as if he finds it hard to understand the world he is in now when he says ‘shambles amongst clues’. The word ‘shambles’ indicates a physical loss and in some ways shows a loss of mental capacity, the word ‘clues’ shows he needs clues to help him remember. In contrast ‘Warning’ is a fantasy and is therefore defined by positive language as she is looking forward.
The way she uses the colours ‘red and purple’ with quite recklessness means that unlike the old man she won’t be overlooked. ‘When’ is used a lot making it seem like it will defiantly happen making it seem more positive as she will be able to enjoy the experience. ‘Old man, old man’ focuses on the reality of the debilitating factors of old age where as Joseph bases ‘Warning’ more on the physical pleasures of old age. The poem ‘Warning’ is written in a reckless way indicating the retreat back into childhood, all the unsuitable clothes, thoughts and behaviour are emphasised in a child like list each prefixed by an ‘and’.
Both of the poems ‘Warning’ and ‘Old man, Old man’ give us insights into the two characters in their prime. ‘Old man, Old man’ shows us how he used to be the boss and wasn’t a man to express his feelings. He used to be able to live his life with physical power and his DIY hobbies but now he is unable to do this ‘once lord of shed, garage and garden,’ the pause here indicates this has now stopped. ‘Not good with daughters’ showing us he found it hard to look after his daughters just like an ordinary average man.
From this we can see that he is used to being in control both physically and mentally but now he isn’t he is finding it hard to get along. Run on lines have been used throughout to show the tedious amount of time in which he began to deteriorate and for things to change. In stanza two a run on line is used to show that he new his eyesight would deteriorate but this shows the time it took. In ‘Warning’ her prime life is her current life as she is looking forward to the prospects of old age.
Stanza three sums up the way she has to live now being sensible, polite and smart, she uses a weary tone to show how society refrains us. The way society has been so strict with the way she has had to behave has led to her wanting to rebel. The pauses after ‘… children. ‘ and ‘… papers. ‘ are there to reflect on her life now. The way she describes how we can act when we’re old in the third stanza makes it seem that she is at the moment frustrated, worried with weight and has had such a sensible upbringing that she is waiting to make up for it.
Throughout she uses childish words such as ‘gobble’ and the things she describes are childish which shows how she has missed out and needs to catch up due to such a sensible up bringing. In comparison to ‘Old man, Old man’, ‘warning’ gives a very positive approach to old age and she seems to think she will just wake up old suddenly one morning. ‘Old man, Old man’ however gives a very negative view on old age and makes it seem like a long tedious process.
In ‘Warning’ the narrator is her younger self and it is therefore a more positive view on old age as she thinks of all the things she can look forward to and not the more realistic, more negative points. In ‘Old man, Old man’ the narrator is not someone who is present in the old mans life but someone observing like his daughter who he ‘disinherited’. They show us that with old age we change and our experiences change us mentally, making many things not make sense to us any more. Both the poems present different of perceptions of old age. ‘Warning’ is more of a dream and imaginary view, but ‘Old man, Old man’ is more realistic.