The Children's Poet
Walter Wingate the noted Scottish
children’s poet was born in Dalry in 1865 and was from a family of
eleven. His father David Wingate was also a poet in his own right and was
referred to locally as the ‘Collier Poet’. After Walter’s mother died his
father married Margaret Thompson who was the grand-daughter of Scotland’s
revered national poet Robert Burns.
Walter is remembered for his poems of
gentle humour such as ‘Sair Finger’ which appeared in his only published
work "Poems by Walter Wingate", Gowans and Gray, 1919. Much of
verse he produced was published over a period of time in the Glasgow newspapers.
Wingate was also a noted watercolour artist, indeed after his
initial education at Hutcheson Grammar School in Hamilton he went on to
the Faculty of Art at Glasgow University.
However, as stated he is best remembered
for the poems in the 1919 publication that was prefaced by Walter Buchanan
a relative, who in part wrote:
"While Wingate was primarily a poet and
student, he was by no means a recluse. His interests and accomplishments
were many and varied. Nothing delighted him more than long walks in the
country, frequently alone, but preferably with congenial companionship. He
wooed Nature in all her moods. Mountain and moor, glen and woodland,
running stream and hills of sheep were lovingly familiar to him; besides
which he had the artist's eye and the scholar's sense of appreciation."
Walter Wingate's mind was initially set on
joining the Indian Civil Service, but although he passed the academic
examination with distinction he failed the physical because of poor
eyesight. He then went on to gain a position as a mathematics teacher at St.
John's Academy in Hamilton, an appointment he held until his premature
death in 1918 at the age of 52. A memorial portrait was dedicated to him
some years later at St. Johns. Walter’s wife Agnes Thom predeceased him by
two years and their marriage produced two sons.
Sair Finger by Walter Wingate
You’ve hurt your finger? Puir wee man!
Your pinkie? Deary me!
Noo, juist you haud it that wey till
I get my specs and see!
My, so it is – and there’s the skelf!
Noo, dinna greet nae mair.
See there – my needle’s gotten’t out!
I’m sure that wasna sair?
And noo, to make it hale the morn.
Put on a wee bit saw.
And tie a bonnie hankie roun’t –
Noo, there na – rin awa’!
Your finger sair ana’? Ye rogue.
Ye’re only letting on!
Weel, weel, then – see noo, there ye are.
Row’d up the same as John.