Poem: Cranky Old Man or Crabbit Old Woman?

So I was reading this poem called “Cranky Old Man” shared by a facebook friend. It was so touching and I wanted to share it too but the way it was written made the OCD side of me google for the “original version” (while hoping it wasn’t actually written that way).
It was written like this – “What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?”

Did you notice the indefinite (not literally) dots in between there? Why not just put a dash? It would look better, no? I can’t really brain the need to put more than 3 dots. To me, 1 dot is a full stop,some certainty there, ending your sentences and 3 dots means indefinite – like you’re uncertain of your idea/thoughts. 2 dots means something in between, not very indefinite but not certain either.

For example,
“um.. maybe?”
“I don’t know…”


Anyway, I googled. Not sure if it’s true, but apparently that’s not the real story. The poem was claimed to be written by a shy nurse called Phyllis McCormack who sent the poem (below) to a newspaper anonymously. One old lady in a hospital happened to read it, love it, wrote it down and kept it with her in her bedside locker. When she died, it was found and sent to the Daily Mail claiming (probably) that she wrote it. From there different stories emerged and the rest is history (lol – the rest is history, really? =.=). The cranky old man version was an adaption by a US poet, David L. Griffith of Texas.

But, in the end, I’m not sure anyway. After all, the source of the above info was one website article.

Anyway, if you’re not the kind of person who cares about the “history” of the poem, you should definitely read and “feel” the poem. Feel.. what does it mean here anyway?
(oh God, too many anyways in this post.)

“Crabbit Old Woman”

What do you see, nurses what do you see

Are you thinking when you are looking at me

A crabbit old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes,

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

When you say in a loud voice –I do wish you’d try

Who seems not to notice the things that you do

And for ever is losing a stocking or shoe,

Who unresisting or not, lets you do as you will

With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill

Is that what you are thinking, is that what you see,

Then open your eyes, nurses, you’re not looking at me.


I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

As I used at your bidding, as I eat at your will,

I am a small child of ten with a father and mother,

Brothers and sisters who love one another,

A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet

Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet;

A bride at 20 — my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I promised to keep

At 25 now I have young of my own

Who need me to build a secure, happy home;

A women of 30 my young now grow fast,

Bound to each other with ties that should last,

At 40 my young sons have grown and are gone;

But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn;

At 50, once more babies play around my knee.

Again we know children, my loved one me

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,

I look at the future, I shudder with dread,

For my young are all rearing young of their own

And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.


I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel

’tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

There is now a stone where once was a heart

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells

And now and again my battered heart swells

I remember the joys I remember the pain,

And I’m loving and living life over again.

I think of the years all too few – gone too fast,

And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.


So open your eyes, nurses open and see

Not a crabbit old women look closer – see me.


1) http://www.hoax-slayer.com/cranky-old-man-poem.shtml
2) https://www.facebook.com/DreamsThatCameTrue/photos/a.348715942456.197869.288343847456/10151105878257457/?type=1&theater



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: