“The Rejected Lover”

Alternate titles: “Alexander”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1915 (Brown)
Keywords: courting rejection loneliness
Found in: Irelan US(Ap,SE)


The girl tells the singer not to return; she prefers freedom to marriage. She later changes her mind; he is no longer interested. She warns others against her mistake


The notes to Henry/Huntington/Herrmann question the connection between their "Rejected Lover" song and Laws P10. They have a point; there isn't much lyric similarity. The plots are alike, however, and the form -- and the two are so widely separated in space that great divergences are possible. Plus there are almost no other versions clearly associated with the Henry text. It seemed easier to lump them.

The Henry text contains several odd Biblical allusions. First, "I'll travel to Mount Nebo, where Moses viewed the Ark." This is patently absurd. Mount Nebo is in Moab, many hundreds of kilometres from Urartu (Ararat), the resting place of the Ark. What Moses saw from Mount Nebo was the future homeland of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 34:1-5).

Equally strange is the reference to Mount Ararat as the place "where Noah did embark." The ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (plural! -- Genesis 8:4). But there is no reason to think he started there.

There are several mysteries about this song. Laws lists only the texts from Sharp, ignoring Brown and the various references there. The notes in Brown don't help; they link it with "The Lonesome (Stormy) Scenes of Winter" [Laws H12] -- which it may have influenced, but which is clearly not the same song.

Cox's and Fuson's versions seem to form a subgroup (which may even be an independent song which has mixed with this one), marked by the steady use of the title line "(You/I) (can't/need not) come again." Both versions, though rather defective, stress an exchange of letters (perhaps the young man has joined the army?); this may have been imported from "A Rich Irish Lady (The Fair Damsel from London; Sally and Billy; The Sailor from Dover; Pretty Sally; etc.)" [Laws P9]. - RBW

Cross references



  1. Laws P10, "The Rejected Lover"
  2. JHCoxIIB, #15, pp. 155-156, "You Can't Come Again" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BrownII 91, "Servant Man" (1 text)
  4. Fuson, p. 145, "You Can't Come Again" (1 short text)
  5. SharpAp 109, "The Rejected Lover" (10 texts, 10 tunes, but version "A" is actually a mishmosh of floaters including "Who will shoe..." and "A-roving on a winter's night...")
  6. Darling-NAS, pp. 136-137, "The Rejected Lover" (1 text)
  7. SHenry H589, p. 344, "The Rejected Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. DT 495, REJCTLVR*
  9. Roud #412
  10. BI, LP10