03/06/2014 12:54 BST | Updated 03/06/2014 12:59 BST

English Lit Students Lost For Words As Exam Paper Poem Contains Just Punctuation

Tipp-Ex-Sonate by Koos Kombuis

A poem with no words, and only punctuation, left Cambridge English university students baffled.

Cambridge University English Literature students were left shocked and baffled after opening their papers and seeing the wordless poem. One student told The Tab Cambridge "I actually felt quite flustered and panicked a little when seeing it. I initially thought it was a printing mistake."

The poem, entitled Tipp-Ex-Sonate, is by 69-year-old, South African-native Koos Kombuis and is made up entirely of punctuation.

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Tipp-Ex-Sonate was intended as a protest against apartheid censorship laws. From Kombuis's hometown in Cape Town he comments, “Where the people at Cambridge got hold of it is anyone’s guess."

Many of the English students felt wholly unprepared for analysis of the wordless poem with one adding: "Admittedly the question wasn’t impossible and I think a lot of finalists probably had the ability to interpret meaning from punctuation. But regardless it threw me and I’m concerned about my 2:1."


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The English Faculty declined to comment on this curveball of a question.