The Wolvercote Tongue: Music, Art and Literary References.


I am so sorry that this post is overdue but life has a way of interrupting my blog writing.

So we have arrived at the fourth edition of the music, art and literary references in the Inspector Morse episodes.

This episode has very little in the way of music but that has to expected in some episodes. One can assume that in some future episodes there will be few pieces of art to identify or only little in the way of literary references to quote.

Interestingly the Wolvercote Tongue is based on another piece in the Ashmolean Museum, The Alfred Jewel. To find our more about the Alfred Jewel click HERE.

Once I have finished with each series I will post a downloadable excel sheet for each category; music, art and literary references. This would allow everyone who downloads said excel sheets to print them off for personal use. Hopefully, having these print outs next to you while you watch the episode will be of help in identifying your favourite pieces of music from all three series. In the same vein the downloadable excel sheets will I hope help in your enjoyment and appreciation of the art and literary references used in all three series.

Of course I am not infallible (I know I was shocked to realise that trait in myself😉 ) so if you should spot an error or omission then please let me know and I will update my post with the new information.

The time of the pieces of music et cetera are based on the British DVD versions of the shows. However, the times shown should not be to dissimilar from other countries versions or should be easy to pinpoint what I am referring  to and when.

The Wolvercote Tongue. (Series 2, Episode 1)

(Chronologically, episode 4)

(The times are set as hh/mm/ss, i.e. hours, minutes and seconds).



Our first piece of music is a sixteenth century composition by John Dowland (1563–1626). Though the music was definitely written by Dowland it is uncertain if he wrote the lyrics, ‘Flow, my tears‘. The piece is played during the banquet scene attended by the Americans, Sheila Williams and Cedric Downes.

Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled for ever, let me mourn;
Where night’s black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.

Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their last fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days, my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts, for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.

Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world’s despite.


The next piece of music is played in Morse’s car as Sergeant Lewis falls asleep. The piece is by Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) and is titled ‘Les Troyens, (“The Trojans”) H133, Act III, Allegro Moderato. I’m afraid I couldn’t find a YouTube recording of the piece.


The last piece of music is being played by the piano player in the Randolph Hotel as the Americans sit around having a drink. The piano piece is from “Love’s Old Sweet Song”: it’s sung in the Irish tenors’ clip at 2:47 to the verses beginning with “Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low” Thanks to A.B. one of my blog readers for the ID.

If you enjoy all the music from the Morse series I have collected all the pieces I have identified thus far and have created playlists on YouTube. On how to access these playlists please read the relevant post by clicking here.


In the forty-eighth minute we are in the house of Theodore Kemp and Lewis is talking to his wife, Marion. On the wall are three paintings. The first two are directly below;


While I was watching the episode I saw these two paintings and thought, well I don’t know who the artists are but the styles are fairly obvious. The one on the right is impressionist or post impressionist and looks very like the work of Matisse, possibly even Cezanne. The one on the left I marked down as probably Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. If not then probably Orientalist, Classical, Romanticism. But after hours of looking on the net and visiting the main library in Edinburgh I have been unable to identify them. Then to make matters worse the next portrait adjacent to the painting of the girl is a landscape,


and I cannot identify that either. I apologise that I am unable to identify the above paintings but I am going to continue looking for answers.

Up next we have a another painting that looks familiar. The camera does only linger for a few seconds and and only on part of the painting.


It is the painting on the bottom left. It looks like a Turner but isn’t. I am beginning to think that the prop department found the above four paintings at a car boot sale or theatre prop store and they are unknown works by unknown painters. Unknown painters who are imitating famous artists and genres.



Morse and Lewis are at the river when a body has been found in the river. Lewis and Morse are discussing suspects and Morse in particular thinks the killer maybe Sheila Williams;

Lewis: “You think a woman could have done that to him?”

Morse: “Hell hath no fury, Lewis.”

The phrase we all use today is, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. However this is paraphrasing the actual quote from a William Congreve (1670–1729) play, ‘The Mourning Bride‘, which reads in full “Heav’n has no rage like love to hatred turn’d / Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d.


This is not an actual quote form any piece of literature as far as I am aware. However, I thought I would mention it anyway. Lewis and Morse are discussing the case in Morse’s house and Morse theorises that maybe Laura Poindexter’s death was a “crime passionnel“. Translated from the French as a crime of passion.


We are still in Morse’s house with Lewis and Morse sitting on the couch. Lewis says that Morse has sex on the brain.

It is when he thinks he’s past love, it is then he meets his last love” It is from the musical Maid of the Mountain, 1932. From a song called I believe ‘A Bachelor Gay’. Lyrics by Harry Graham. Music by Harold Fraser-Simpson. This song is quoted in the later Morse episode, ‘Sins of the Father’.

The last verse is;

At seventeen he falls in love quite madly with eyes of china blue
At twenty four, he falls in love once more, but with eyes of a different hue
At thirty four he’s flirting oh so sadly with two or three or more
And then when he thinks he’s past love, ah tis then he meets his last love
And he loves her as he’s never done before
And he loves her as he’s never loved before.


Morse and Lewis have wrapped up the case and are standing at the Trout Inn. Morse says that it was, “Love’s old sweet song all the time.”

Love’s Old Sweet Song is a Victorian parlour song published in 1884 by composer James Lynam Molloy and lyricist G. Clifton Bingham. It has of course been recorded numerous time. Here below is the Irish Tenor’s version of the song;

So, we have come to the end of this post and as always I hope you have enjoyed it. Thank you all for your continuing support.

Author: Chris Sullivan

After having looked after my mum for some 11 years she is now unfortunately in a nursing home. I'm afraid her dementia worsened as did her physical capabilities. UPDATE: My mum died from Covid-19 on the 6th May 2020. So, for the first time in 21 years I find myself no longer caring for anyone. Apart from my mum I was also a single parent to two children and also looked after my dad who had Alzheimers, (he died in 2005). So, I have decided to return to University to try and get another degree this time in English Literature. (My other degree I got some 30 years ago is one in Ecological Science). After a year at college I have passed all grades and now will start Edinburgh University in September 2019. I am now in second year having passed all the requirements in first year.

8 thoughts

  1. Hello, Chris.

    1. The Berlioz snippet is the concluding bars of “Marche troyenne” from the opera (on my copy of the DVD, it’s heard at around 1:06:58, not 1:06:05).

    2. The piano piece is from “Love’s Old Sweet Song”: it’s sung in the Irish tenors’ clip at 2:47 to the verses beginning with “Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low” (there’s a YouTube clip of this particular part played on the piano by Edward Tarte).


    1. Hi A.B. It seems like you have already identified all the music from Morse which makes my need to do so superfluous and unnecessary. I don’t like duplicating work that has already been done which only wastes what little spare time I have each week. If you already have a list of all the music it may be worth just allowing me to publish that with credit of course going to yourself for the identifications. It makes more sense than me writing my post and you having to continually go to trouble of commenting after each post.

  2. Lovely. And I hadn’t known the ‘hell hath’ reference. I just always assumed it was Shakespeare, as I imagine Lewis would think, as well!

  3. It seems Morse quoted a verse for Love’s Old Sweet Song (3rd verse?) which I have not heard of before and which I could not find on the internet. Is there really such a verse for the song?

  4. “A Bachelor Gay” was composed by James W. Tate in 1916, and written by F. Clifford Harris and Valentine; the sheet music was published by Francis, Day & Hunter of London in 1917.

    This song includes the words ‘“It is when he thinks he’s past love, it is then he meets his last love” It is from the musical Maid of the Mountain

      1. Thank you for the time and effort put into your research. I found your blog when searching for the Morse quote from ‘A Bachelor Gay’, although I think he attributes it to ‘Loves Old Sweet Song’…both of which I know you have mentioned.

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