by WILLIAM MILLER (1810-1872)
Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toun,
Up stairs and doon stairs in his nicht-goun,
Tirlin’ at the window, cryin’ at the lock,
‘Are the weans in their bed, for it’s noo ten o’clock?’
‘Hey, Willie Winkie, are ye comin’ ben?
The cat’s singin’ grey thrums to the sleepin’ hen,
The dog’s spelder’d on the floor, and disna gi’e a cheep,
But here’s a waukrife laddie that winna fa’ asleep!’
Onything but sleep, you rogue! glow’ring like the mune,
Rattlin’ in an airn jug wi’ an airn spune,
Rumblin’, tumblin’ round about, crawin’ like a cock,
Skirlin’ like a kenna-what, wauk’nin’ sleepin’ fock.
‘Hey, Willie Winkie – the wean’s in a creel!
Wambling aff a bodie’s knee like a verra eel,
Ruggin’ at the cat’s lug, and ravelin’ a’ her thrums
Hey, Willie Winkie – see, there he comes!’
Wearit is the mither that has a stoorie wean,
A wee stumple stoussie, that canna rin his lane,
That has a battle aye wi’ sleep before he’ll close an ee
But a kiss frae aff his rosy lips gies strength anew to me.
WEE WILLIE WINKIE (English translation)
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Up stairs and down stairs in his night-gown,
Tapping at the window, crying at the lock,
“Are the children in their bed, for it’s now ten o’clock?”
“Hey, Willie Winkie, are you coming in?
The cat is singing purring sounds to the sleeping hen,
The dog’s spread out on the floor,
and doesn’t give a cheep,
But here’s a wakeful little boy who will not fall asleep!”
Anything but sleep, you rogue! glowering like the moon,
Rattling in an iron jug with an iron spoon,
Rumbling, tumbling round about, crowing like a cock,
Shrieking like I don’t know what, waking sleeping folk.
“Hey, Willie Winkie – the child’s in a creel!
Wriggling from everyone’s knee like an eel,
Tugging at the cat’s ear, and confusing all her thrums
Hey, Willie Winkie – see, there he comes!”
Weary is the mother who has a dusty child,
A small short little child, who can’t run on his own,
Who always has a battle with sleep before he’ll close an eye
But a kiss from his rosy lips gives strength anew to me.
William Miller was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied for a career in medicine, however, ill health precluded him from pursuing that goal and he became a woodturner. In 1863, his friends encouraged him to publish his charming dialectic poems for children. This brought him some fame and he became known as the Laureate of the Nursery. Today, he is chiefly remembered as the author of “Willie Winkie,” although a later generation might have thought it was written by Rudyard Kipling, who used the poem’s title for his 1899 story ” Wee Willie Winkie.”