Crabbit Old Woman

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 4, 1994

What do you see, what do you see?
Are you thinking, when you look at me~
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far-away 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 forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who, unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day is fill.
Is that what you’re thinking,
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes,
nurse, you’re looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still!
As I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of 10 with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who loved one another~
A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet,
A bride soon 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 woman 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 and 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 is crumbled, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart,
But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells,
I remember the joy, 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, nurse, open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer~
See Me.


This poem was written by Phyllis Mabel McCormack who lived 
from 30/06/1913 until 10/01/1994. Originally entitled 
“Look Closer” she wrote it in the early 1960s for publication 
in the Sunnyside Chronicle


  1. tric said:

    We were given a copy of this when I began nursing. I tried to remember it every day.


  2. According to Wikepedia…….
    This poem was written by Phyllis Mabel McCormack who lived from 30/06/1913 until 10/01/1994. Originally entitled “Look Closer” she wrote it in the early 1960s for publication in the Sunnyside Chronicle, which was a magazine produced by the staff of Sunnyside Royal Hospital for circulation within the hospital. She submitted it anonymously as she felt it was critical of some of her colleagues. A copy of the magazine was loaned to a patient in a nearby hospital, Ashludie near Dundee. Before returning the magazine, the old lady copied the poem out in her own handwriting and kept this copy in her bedside cabinet. When she died and the staff cleared her belongings, it was found and, as it was in her handwriting, it was assumed that she was the author. It was then given to the Sunday Post, which then published it with the legend that still persists today. Thomson Press did very quickly post a correction but to no avail.


    • Thank you so much for the author research!!!! The post has been updated….

      Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T


  3. Great writing, and hit’s home with my mother-in-law in a home with Alzheimers !! May read this one at a monthly meeting of poets I have been to !!

    Blessings in Christ, bruce


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