More about this song
A Jacobite song, detailing the movements of John Gordon, Viscount Kenmure, who declared for the Stuart cause during the 1715 Uprising, and was executed thereafter. Burns was a visitor at the Kenmure estate in 1793, and met the Viscount's grandson.
In the political climate of the late 1790s, the publication of this song advocating the bravery and success of a rebellious supporter is significant; neither the lyrics nor the tune seems to have been published prior to the 1792 printing in the Scots Musical Museum.
The musical notes to the tune read 'slowish, but with spirit'. Given the lyrics coupled with the martial air of the tune, it is no wonder why this is a favourite in collected recordings of Burns songs.
The final stanza references 'the rose that's like the snaw' (l.24) in a final thrust of national declaration. Rosa alba - the white rose of Scotland - is a Jacobite symbol, and is also the subject of Hugh MacDiarmid's poem 'The Little White Rose.'