The Spittal of Glenshee

The Spittal of Glenshee
Which is the most dismal to see –
With its bleak, rocky mountains,
And clear, crystal fountains,
With their misty foam;
And thousands of sheep there together do roam,
Browsing on the barren pasture, blasted-like to see,
Stunted in heather, and scarcely a tree;
And black-looking cairns of stones, as monuments to show,
Where people have been found that were lost in the snow –
Which is cheerless to behold –
And as the traveller gazes thereon it makes his blood run cold,
And almost makes him weep,
For a human voice is seldom heard there,
Save the shepherd crying to his sheep.

The chains of mountains there is most frightful to see,
Along each side of the Spittal o’ Glenshee;
But the Castleton o’ Braemar is most beautiful to see,
With its handsome whitewashed houses, and romantic scenery,
And bleak-looking mountains, capped with snow,
Where the deer and the roe do ramble to and fro,
Near by the dark river Dee,
Which is most beautiful to see.

And Balmoral Castle is magnificent to be seen,
Highland home of the Empress of India, Great Britain’s Queen,
With its beautiful pine forests, near by the river Dee,
Where the rabbits and hares do sport in mirthful glee,
And the deer and the roe together do play
All the live long summer day,
In sweet harmony together,
While munching the blooming heather,
With their hearts full of glee,
In the green woods of Balmoral, near by the river Dee.


This work was composed after the famous trip to Balmoral. Whilst not appearing as a “gem” in its own right in any of McGonagall’s poetry collections, it appears as part of the Brief Autobiography published in Poetic Gems.

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