Poetry Corner: Wee Willie Winkie

On 20 August 1872, poet William Miller died. Known as ‘the laureate of the nursery’ Miller wrote mainly children’s verse. He is best remembered for the classic, “Wee Willie Winkie”. Miller never managed to make a career solely as a poet and worked as a cabinet-maker and wood turner for most of his life, dying penniless in Glasgow’s East End. However, his memory lingered and public subscription paid for a monument to him in Glasgow’s Necropolis. ScotClans

Willie Winkie


Wee Willie Winkie
Rins through the toun,
Up stairs and doun stairs
In his nicht-gown,
Tirling at the window,
Crying at the lock,
“Are the weans in their bed,
For it’s now ten o’clock?

“Hey, Willie Winkie,
Are ye coming ben?
The cat’s singing grey thrums
To the sleeping hen,
The dog’s spelder’d on the floor,
And disna gie a cheep,
But here’s a waukrife laddie
That winna fa’ asleep.”

Onything but sleep, you rogue!
Glow’ring like the moon,
Rattling in an airn jug
Wi’ an airn spoon,
Rumblin’, tumblin’, round about,
Crawing like a cock,
Skirlin’ like a kenna-what,
Wauk’nin’ sleeping folk.


Illustrations from the novel A Book of Nursery Rhymes. 1901. Clara E. Atwood

“Hey, Willie Winkie –
The wean’s in a creel!
Wamblin’ aff a body’s knee
Like a very eel,
Ruggin’ at the cat’s lug,
Rav’llin’ a’ her thrums –
Hey, Willie Winkie –
See, there he comes!”

Wearied is the mither
That has a stoorie wean,
A wee stumpie stousie,
That canna rin his lane.
That has a battle aye wi’ sleep,
Before he’ll close an e’e –
But a kiss frae aff his rosy lips
Gies strength anew to me.

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