Tuesday, November 18, 2014

grave post - William Miller

To a person, everyone we mentioned our visit to the Necropolis asked "did you see the "wee willie winkie" stone? Glaswegians are proud of their homegrown author of this nursery rhyme, William Miller. 
I, and possibly most people, only really remember the first verse

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 past ten o'clock?

but there are more verses. quite a few more.
(if you're interested, here's a link to the Scots version)

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.

According to the Scottish Poetry Library:
William Miller was born in Briggate, Glasgow, in August 1810.  He served an apprenticeship to a wood-turner, and became a skilled cabinet-maker, a trade which he followed for the rest of his life.  He began to write poetry while still a youth, contributing to local newspapers and periodicals; the appearance of 'Willie Winkie' and several other nursery poems in the 3rd and 4th series of Whistle-binkie  (1839-43) established his reputation.  His best poems were thus produced before he was thirty-six; he then wrote little until the year before his death.  He died in poverty in 1872, and is buried in Tollcross, in a plot that does not bear his name.  There is a memorial to Miller in the Glasgow Necropolis, and in 2009 a plaque was placed on the wall of the brewery which now stands on the site of his former home in Dennistoun.


  1. What a sweet little poem. I knew you would have an interesting stone or two to show us from that cemetery trip.

  2. Great postcard and blog post! Thanks for sharing :D

  3. This is delightful. Now that I'm a grandma, I've started singing nursery rhymes again. So much fun.


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