What is the meaning of this line in Loch Lomond?

The Meaning of the Line in Loch Lomond

The song “Loch Lomond” is a popular Scottish folk song that holds deep cultural and emotional significance. One particular line in the song has captured the attention and curiosity of many listeners: “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road.” This article aims to explore the meaning behind this line, drawing insights from various sources.


Interpreting the line in Loch Lomond requires an understanding of the historical and cultural context in which it was written. The most common interpretation suggests that the line represents a farewell between two Scottish soldiers. One soldier is destined to die in battle and be buried in Scotland, symbolized by the “low road.” The other soldier, who will survive, is taking the metaphorical “high road” back home.

This interpretation reflects the emotional impact of war and the separation it brings. It encapsulates the bittersweet nature of farewells, where one individual embarks on a journey towards life and hope, while the other faces the inevitability of death.

Emotional Contrast

The line “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road” presents a stark emotional contrast between the paths taken by the two individuals. The “high road” represents the living, the future, and a brighter path filled with possibilities. It conveys the idea of optimism, opportunity, and the chance for a better life.

In contrast, the “low road” symbolizes death, the afterlife, and a more somber journey. It evokes feelings of sorrow, loss, and the acceptance of an inevitable fate. The emotional contrast between the high road and the low road intensifies the emotional impact of the song, resonating with listeners on a deep level.


Symbolism plays a significant role in the interpretation of the line in Loch Lomond. The “high road” can be seen as a symbol of righteousness, moral integrity, and taking the honorable route. It represents choosing the path of virtue, doing what is morally right, and upholding one’s principles.

On the other hand, the “low road” can symbolize a darker path, possibly involving deceit, immoral actions, or a departure from ethical standards. It suggests a deviation from the right course, reflecting the consequences of one’s choices and actions.

It is essential to note that the symbolism of the high road and the low road can vary depending on the cultural and historical context in which the song is interpreted. Different interpretations may emphasize different aspects of these symbols, adding depth and richness to the overall meaning of the song.


  1. Phrases.org.uk: https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/32/messages/1297.html
  2. Steinberg Forums: https://forums.steinberg.net/t/musicological-question-re-repeat-structures/821892
  3. Mojim.com: https://mojim.com/the+second+waltz.html?u4


What is the significance of the line “You take the high road and I’ll take the low road” in Loch Lomond?

The line signifies a farewell between two individuals, often interpreted as Scottish soldiers. One is destined to die and be buried in Scotland (“low road”), while the other will survive and return home via the metaphorical “high road.”

Is there an emotional contrast between the high road and the low road in Loch Lomond?

Yes, the line represents a significant emotional contrast. The “high road” symbolizes the living, the future, and a brighter path, while the “low road” represents death, the afterlife, and a more somber journey.

Does the line hold any symbolic meaning?

Indeed, the high road and the low road carry symbolic significance. The “high road” can symbolize the path of righteousness, moral integrity, and taking the honorable route. On the other hand, the “low road” can represent a darker path involving deceit or immoral actions.

Are there different interpretations of the line in Loch Lomond?

Yes, interpretations of the line may vary based on cultural and historical contexts. While the common interpretation revolves around Scottish soldiers, other perspectives may emphasize themes of separation, sacrifice, or even personal choices and consequences.

Does the line have any historical or cultural significance?

Loch Lomond is a popular Scottish folk song with deep historical and cultural roots. The line reflects the sentiments and experiences of Scottish soldiers, capturing the emotions associated with war, farewells, and the longing for home.

Can the line be interpreted metaphorically beyond its literal meaning?

Absolutely. The line holds metaphorical potential, resonating with individuals facing difficult choices, diverging paths, or the inevitability of fate. It can evoke universal themes of life and death, hope and despair, and the complexities of human existence.

Are there any other notable lines or verses in Loch Lomond that contribute to its overall meaning?

Loch Lomond is a lyrical masterpiece with various lines and verses that add depth to its meaning. Lines such as “O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road” are often accompanied by poignant verses that further explore themes of love, loss, and the yearning for freedom.

How has Loch Lomond been interpreted and performed in different artistic mediums?

Over the years, Loch Lomond has been interpreted and performed by numerous artists in various musical genres, including folk, classical, and contemporary. Its emotional resonance and timeless themes have made it a favorite for reinterpretation, allowing artists to infuse their unique perspectives and styles into the song.