Wee Joukydaidles, a Scottish poem

As a child, I loved to search through my father’s old set of poetry books.  One called, “Comic Poets of the 19th Century” included familiar poems such as The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll but it also contained some decidedly unfunny poems.

My favourite, probably because of my Scottish birth, was the following poem.  If you have trouble understanding the Scots' tongue there is a glossary at the end.

Wee Joukydaidles by James Smith

Wee Joukydaidles,
   Toddlin' oot an' in;
Oh, but she's a cuttie,
   Makin' sic a din!
Aye sae fou o' mischief,
   An' minds nae what I say:
My very heart gangs loup, loup,
   Fifty times a day!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Where's the stumpie noo?
She's tumblin' i' the cruivie,
   An' lauchin' to the soo!
Noo she sees my angry e'e,
   An' aff she's like a hare!
Lassie, when I get ye,
   I'll scud ye till I'm sair!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Noo she's breakin' dishes
Noo she's soakit i' the burn,
   Catchin' little fishes;
Noo she's i' the barnyard,
   Playin' wi' the fouls
Feedin' them wi' butter-bakes,
   Snaps, an' sugar-bools.

Wee Joukydaidles
   Oh, my heart it's broke!
She's torn my braw new wincey,
   To mak; a dolly's frock.
There's the goblet owre the fire!
   The jaud! she weel may rin!
No a tattie ready yet,
   An' faither comin' in!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Wha's sae tired as me!
See! the kettle's doun at last!
   Wae's me for my tea!
Oh! it's angersome, atweel,
   An' sune'll mak' me gray;
My very heart gangs loup, loup,
   Fifty times a day!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Where's the smoukie noo?
She's hidin' i' the coal-hole,
   Cryin' "Keekybo!"
Noo she's at the fireside,
   Pu'in' pussy's tail
Noo she's at the broun bowl
   Suppin' a' the kail!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Paidlin' i' the shower
There she's at the windy!
   Haud her, or she's owre!
Noo she's slippit frae my sicht:
   Where's the wean at last?
In the byre amang the kye,
   Sleepin' soun' an' fast!

Wee Joukydaidles
   For a' ye gi'e me pain,
Ye're aye my darlin' tottie yet
   My ain wee wean!
An' gin I'm spared to ither days
   Oh, may they come to pass
I'll see my bonnie bairnie
   A braw, braw lass!


cuttie = mischievous child
gangs loup, loup = goes jump, jump
stumpie = an endearing name for a child
cruivie = pigsty
soo = sow, pig
scud = slap
burn = stream
sugar-bools = round sugar-plums
wincey = cloth with a woollen weft and a linen warp
jaud = wilful, perverse
tattie = potato
Wae's me = Woe is me
atweel = as well
smoukie = cunning child
wean = child
byre amang the kye = cowshed amongst the cattle
tottie = term of endearment for a child

James Smith, the author of this poem, was born in Edinburgh in 1824.  At the age of 11, he was apprenticed to a printer as a compositor.  On finishing his apprenticeship, he worked briefly in London before travelling to Ireland.  He returned to work in Edinburgh as a journeyman printer and spent his leisure time writing poetry.  He had the tremendous advantage of being able to set up the typeface for a book of his own poems.  He often wrote with a sense of humour but also with sadness and tenderness.  As well as poems, some of which he set to music, he also wrote novels.

James Smith married three times and had seven children. "Wee Joukydaidles" shows us that he understood and loved small mischievous children.  When he died in 1887, friends and followers of his work raised money for a memorial on his grave in Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh.  You can see a photograph of this memorial at 


  1. Dearest friend,
    thanks most sincerely for such an inspiring post !

    Wishing you all my best for your coming days,
    may your Christmas be the Merriest and the Brightest ever


    Xx Daniela at - My little old world -

    1. Thank you, Daniela. Best wishes for a good New Year.

  2. I've never read this before, Liz. I love it.
    Have a lovely Christmas.