Wee Willie Winkie


Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie is the bedtime figure characterised in the Scottish nursery rhyme of the same name which was written by William Miller in 1841.

The nursery rhyme

The original text was written in Scots and is below

:"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."

English translation

The most common English translation is given below:

:"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."

Most people remember the first verse of the song, while the other four verses aren't as memorable.

The spirit

The spirit of Wee Willie Winkie himself shares a field with other bedtime entities such as the Sandman, Ole Lukøje of Scandinavia, and Dormette of France. Some children even ask Wee Willie Winkie to help them wake when they are to wet the bed or embark on a sleepwalk.

The poem also has origins in a time when there was a significant struggle between the budding modern police state, imposing curfews supposedly for the population's own good, and classical liberalism, where people recognize that it's nobody else's business when their kids go to bed, and thus struck an ironic chord both sides could identify with, ensuring the rhyme's popularity. Fact|date=June 2008 Hence this is possibly the inspiration for the American television question, "It's 10PM (or 11). Do you know where your children are?" (see link below)Fact|date=June 2008

References

*Melville, F "The Book of Faeries" 2002 Quarto Press
*George Robinson: "Wee Willie Winkie - Hollywood's version of a Highland Regiment on the NW Frontier". Soldiers of the Queen (journal of the Victorian Military Society). March 1994.

See also

*He is a source of inspiration for the musicians CocoRosie who often name Wee Willie Winkie in their live prestations.
*Do you know where your children are?


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