Dark Winter's white shroud on the mountains was lying,
And deep lay the drifts in each corrie and vale,
Snow-clouds in their anger o'er heaven were flying,
Far-flinging their wrath on the frost-breathing gale; -
Undaunted by tempests in majesty roaring,
Unawed by the gloom of each path-covered glen,
As swift as the rush of a cataract pouring,
The mighty Montrose led his brave Highlandmen: -
Over each trackless waste,
Trooping in glory's haste,
Dark-rolling and silent as mist on the heath,
Resting not night nor day,
Fast on their snowy way
They dauntlessly sped on the pinions of death.
As loud as the wrath of the deep Corryvreckan,
Far-booming o'er Scarba's lone wave-circled isle,
As mountain rocks crash to the vale, thunder-stricken,
Their slogan arose in Glen Spean's defile; -
As clouds shake their locks to the whispers of Heaven;
As quakes the hushed earth 'neath the ire of the blast;
As quivers the heart of the craven, fear-riven,
So trembled Argyle at the sound as it passed; -
Over the startled snows,
Swept the dread word "Montrose,"
Deep-filling his soul with the gloom of dismay,
Marked he the wave of men,
Wild-rushing thro' the glen,
Then sank his proud crest to the coward's vile sway.
To Arms! rung afar on the winds of the morning,
Yon dread pennon streams as a lurid bale-star:
Hark! shrill from his trumpets an ominous warning
Is blown with the breath of the demon of war; -
Then bright flashed his steel as the eye of an eagle,
Then spread he his wings to the terror-struck foe;
Then on! with the swoop of a conqueror regal,
He rushed, and his talons struck victory's blow: -
Wild then their shouts arose,
Field then their shivered foes,
And snowy Ben-Nevis re-echoed their wail;
Far from the field of dread,
Scattered, they singly fled,
As hound-startled deer, to the depths of each vale.
Where, where is Argyle now, his kinsmen to rally?
Where, where is the chieftain with timorous soul?
On Linnhe's grey waters he crouched in his galley,
And saw as a traitor the battle blast roll: -
Ungrasped was the hilt of his broadsword, still sleeping,
Unheard was his voice in the moment of need;
Secure from the rage of fierce foemen, death-sweeping,
He sought not by valour, his clansmen to lead.
Linnhe, in scornful shame,
Hissed out his humbled name,
As fast sped his boat on its flight-seeking course;
Sunk was his pride and flown,
Doomed then his breast to own
A coward-scarred heart, ever lashed with remorse.