Samuel Pepys Diary

The Complete Diary


A word from a sponsor ....

Literature and texts are constantly evolving, although it always comes as a bit of a surprise to hear the latest innovations in the realm of the literary and lyrical.

In this respect, it’s safe to say that the latest example of this has come from Cambridge University trailblazing with their final year literature exam for the English course Cambridge. The lateral-thinking cat was certainly let amongst the high-brow pigeons (so to speak!) in a grand fashion, by the inclusion of the lyrics of the chart-topping single ‘Love is a Losing Game’ by Amy Winehouse.

The task assigned to the practical criticism exam students was to compare the contemporary text with the 16th century work of poet and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, ‘As You Came from the Holy Land.’ It wasn’t just a case of comparing Raleigh with the trouble soul singer, Winehouse. The other choices of comparative texts included ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ by Bob Dylan or ‘Fine and Mellow’ by Billie Holiday. It’s a creative approach to English courses Cambridge, and the students’ task involved elaborating upon the ‘diverse senses of lyric’ in both the 1592 poem and a selection of the designated modern songs.

The English school Cambridge officials have defended the decision to use lyrics and deflected criticism. Indeed, the exam question referred to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of lyric as ‘of or pertaining to the lyre; adapted to the lyre, meant to be sung.’

And remember, ‘lyric poetry is the expression by the poet of his own feelings’ (Ruskin). What will English courses Oxford and any English school Oxford come up with next to top this literary storm in a teacup?