“The True Lovers' Discussion (I)”


The boy asks the girl why she has changed her mind about him. She explains. He offers counter-arguments, elaborately reasoned. They quarrel. He prepares to leave her. She grows sad and begs him to stay.

Supplemental text

True Lovers' Discussion (I), The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The True Lovers' Discoursion

From Helen Creighton, Folksongs from Southern New Brunswick,
#39B, pp. 87-92. Collected from Angelo Dornan, Elgin, N. B.

One summer's morning when pinks and daises
Closed in their bosoms a drop of dew,
The feathered warblers of every species
Together chanting their notes so true,
As I did stray wrapped in admiration
'Twould charm your heart for to hear them sing,
Night's silent slumberers were fast arising,
And the birds in concert did sweetly sing.

(19 additional stanzas)


The notes to Sam Henry credit it to a "schoolteacher M'Kittrick," at a date before 1860, and it certainly seems likely enough that it is composed. But I cannot prove the authorship.

The notes to Henry/Huntington/Herrmann list several other versions of this song, so I suppose it must have had some oral currency. But I can't believe it really had much popularity (despite Sam Henry's claims that he had many requests). It is dense, talkative, repetitive, foolish, and *long* (18 8-line stanzas in the Henry text, 20 8-line stanzas in Creighton and in Manny/Wilson). It is also much too fond of elaborate words to be a good folk song.

I wonder if Henry wasn't confusing this with "Two Lovers Discoursing" [Laws O22] (a confusion Creighton also suffered; see Ben Schwartz's note); they share a title, and a theme, but the forms are utterly different. - RBW

Creighton-SNewBrunswick: "There must be some relation between 39A and B. The former seems to have originated with the folk and the latter to have been a literary composition taken over by the folk. They are placed together because of subject matter and also because singers give variants of the same title." If so they have grown so far apart that there is no hint in the words that they are related. For 39A see "Two Lovers Discoursing" [Laws O22].

On IRRCinnamond02, Cinnamond sings the first two and last verse [of "32"] that are very close to SHenry H164. He points out that the last verse claims "In Magheratimpan [near Ballynahinch], if you inquire, you will find the author of these simple lines"; that corresponds to the note in SHenry about authorship. - BS


  • Bodleian, Harding B 19(102), "The True Lover's Discussion," J.F. Nugent & Co. (Dublin), 1850-1899; also 2806 b.9(228)[some words illegible], 2806 c.15(65), 2806 c.15(43)[many illegible words], "[The] True Lover's Discussion"


  • Robert Cinnamond, "The True-Lover's Discussion" (on IRRCinnamond02)


  1. SHenry H164, pp. 362-364, "The True Lovers' Discussion" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 39B, "The True Lovers' Discoursion" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Manny/Wilson 96, "The True Lovers' Discussion" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. O'Conor, pp. 77-79, "The True Lover's Discussion" (1 text)
  5. ST HHH164 (Partial)
  6. Roud #2948
  7. BI, HHH164


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1901 (O'Conor); before 1900 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 19(102))
Found in: Ireland Canada(Mar)