A sonnet cycle is a group of sonnets, arranged to address a particular person or theme, and designed to be read both as a collection of fully realized individual poems and as a single poetic work comprising all the individual sonnets.
A sonnet cycle may have any theme, but unrequited love is the most common. The arrangement of the sonnets generally reflects thematic concerns, with chronological arrangements (whether linear, like a progression, or cyclical, like the seasons) being the most common. A sonnet cycle may also have allegorical or argumentative structures which replace or complement chronology.
While the thematic arrangement may reflect the unfolding of real or fictional events, the sonnet cycle is very rarely narrative; the narrative elements may be inferred, but provide background structure, and are never the primary concern of the poet's art.
Notable sonnet cycles have been written by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Pierre de Ronsard, Edmund Spenser, Rupert Brooke, Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, John Donne, William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Famous quotes containing the words cycle and/or sonnet:
“Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.”
—Dorothy Parker (18931967)
“Therefore we value the poet. All the argument and all the wisdom is not in the encyclopedia, or the treatise on metaphysics, or the Body of Divinity, but in the sonnet or the play.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)