[Mary Campbell, of whose worth and beauty Burns has sung with such
deep feeling, was the daughter of a mariner, who lived in Greenock.
She became acquainted with the poet while on service at the castle of
Montgomery, and their strolls in the woods and their roaming trysts
only served to deepen and settle their affections. Their love had much
of the solemn as well as of the romantic: on the day of their
separation they plighted their mutual faith by the exchange of Bibles:
they stood with a running-stream between them, and lifting up water in
their hands vowed love while woods grew and waters ran. The Bible
which the poet gave was elegantly bound: 'Ye shall not swear by my
name falsely,' was written in the bold Mauchline hand of Burns, and
underneath was his name, and his mark as a freemason. They parted to
meet no more: Mary Campbell was carried off suddenly by a burning
fever, and the first intimation which the poet had of her fate, was
when, it is said, he visited her friends to meet her on her return
from Cowal, whither she had gone to make arrangements for her
marriage. The Bible is in the keeping of her relations: we have seen a
lock of her hair; it was very long and very bright, and of a hue
deeper than the flaxen. The song was written for Thomson's work.]
Ye banks, and braes, and streams around
The castle o' Montgomery,
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie!
There Simmer first unfauld her robes,
And there the langest tarry;
For there I took the last farewell
O' my sweet Highland Mary.
How sweetly bloom'd the gay green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade
I clasp'd her to my bosom!
The golden hours, on angel wings,
Flew o'er me and my dearie;
For dear to me, as light and life,
Was my sweet Highland Mary!
Wi' mony a vow, and lock'd embrace,
Our parting was fu' tender;
And, pledging aft to meet again,
We tore oursels asunder;
But oh! fell death's untimely frost,
That nipt my flower sae early!--
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay,
That wraps my Highland Mary!
O pale, pale now, those rosy lips
I aft hae kissed sae fondly!
And clos'd for ay the sparkling glance
That dwelt on me sae kindly!
And mouldering now in silent dust,
That heart that lo'ed me dearly--
But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary!