A sonnet sequence is a group of sonnets thematically unified to create a long work, although generally, unlike the stanza, each sonnet so connected can also be read as a meaningful separate unit.
The sonnet sequence was a very popular genre during the Renaissance, following the pattern of Petrarch. This article is about sonnet sequences as integrated wholes. For the form of individual sonnets, see Sonnet.
Sonnet sequences are typically closely based on Petrarch, either closely emulating his example or working against it. The subject is usually the speaker's unhappy love for a distant beloved, following the courtly love tradition of the troubadours, from whom the genre ultimately derived. An exception is Edmund Spenser's Amoretti, where the wooing is successful, and the sequence ends with an Epithalamion, a marriage song.
Although many sonnet sequences at least pretend to be autobiographical, the genre became a very stylised one, and most sonnet sequences are better approached as attempts to create an erotic persona in which wit and originality plays with the artificiality of the genre. Thus one could regard the emotions evoked to be as artificial as the conventions with which they are presented.
Famous quotes containing the words sonnet and/or sequence:
“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)
“Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an autobiography.... For autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes up the continuous flow of life. Here, I am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities. For even if months and years appear here, it is in the form they have in the moment of recollection. This strange formit may be called fleeting or eternalis in neither case the stuff that life is made of.”
—Walter Benjamin (18921940)