Exploring the Structure of Repetition in The Sonnets: A Literary Data Analysis and Visualization
Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets is one of the most powerful yet perplexing collections of American poetry. It’s a collection of beautiful and entrancing sonnets, ones that quickly leave the reader feeling adrift in the sea of words that Berrigan has masterfully constructed. There is an important technique that Berrigan employs to glue and connect his collection together, that is the use of repetition. Berrigan frequently reuses words and lines in the sonnets throughout the collection, tying them together in a web of syntactic connections. These connections produce a strange and unique effect on the reader, that of recognition and familiarity as one treads deeper into the poems. One cannot help themselves but feel like the collection is tied together through some sort of literary structure, with different sonnets being connected and interwoven through their shared words and phrases. As poet Hayden Carruth says in his review of the collection, “These sonnets are put together, not according to a formula, since they have nothing wooden or formalistic about them, but according to a rationale of structure which is, whatever else, an elucidable rationale.” It is this idea of structure within The Sonnets that this website and project will focus on, and hopefully try to decipher. To make clear and uncover the architecture that Berrigan has created to hold together his masterpiece.