The subject of this poem is likely to have been Margaret Campbell, the famous ‘Highland Mary’. The romance between Robert Burns and ‘Highland Mary’ in 1786 is often portrayed as the love of his life, however, comparatively little is actually known about it apart from an exchange of bibles that is seen as a token of possible betrothal. It was certainly a complex relationship that occurred at a particularly difficult time in the poet’s life and ended definitely with her sudden early death. In the context of this poem, Margaret Campbell had been a servant of the Montgomerie family in Coilsfield House and a mistress of Captain James Montgomerie. That affair possibly continued during the quite short time that Burns knew her.
Altho' my bed were in yon muir,
Amang the heather, in my plaidie;
Yet happy, happy would I be,
Had I my dear Montgomerie's Peggy.
When o'er the hill beat surly storms,
And winter nights were dark and rainy;
I'd seek some dell, and in my arms
I'd shelter dear Montgomerie's Peggy.
Were I a baron proud and high,
And horse and servants waiting ready;
Then a' 'twad gie o' joy to me, -
The sharin't with Montgomerie's Peggy.