Category Archives: Sonnets

voyant of the procreation sonnets

After talking about sonnets 1-17 (sometimes called “the procreation sonnets,” which I love) in tutorial last week, I thought it might be interesting to use Voyant on all of them to visualize the discussion we had.

sonnet voyant before

This first one was really boring and didn’t really reveal anything so I edited it to take out prepositions and pronouns and other fluff words. After doing that, it was much more reflective of the actual content.

sonnet voyant after

The second Voyant prominently features the two main themes we noticed: beauty and time. The other often-used words are exactly what you would expect. “Make” and “art” are there along with “sweet,” “world” and “love.”

I recommend clicking through to the larger image to see the most interesting part. While this word cloud looks pleasant from afar, there are a lot of tiny words with negative connotations that Shakespeare used to form his argument. “Winter,” “widow,” “wilt,” “unused,” “tomb” and “waste” are all used only twice in the span of the 17 sonnets but pack a powerful punch in context.

This cirrus did a better job than I expected of opening my eyes to the true nature of these poems. They’ve got layers of flattery and dire consequences, sweet and sinister. But if this boy was attractive enough to write seventeen sonnets to, I think I’m on Shakespeare’s side and I hope his genes are alive and well somewhere.

Sonnet: Tales from Calgary Transit

The grass has sprung, the air is light

Beneath the shelter we all sit

The bus is late; we huddle tight

While many cigarettes are lit.


Safe from the smoke, in my own seat,

I’m made aware of one man’s plight;

His voice, crude like an ape, doth bleat

As his own words provoke a fight:


”Where is this bus?” he yells aloud,

while startled others glance about.

For his impatience, he is proud:

he stands up, now, to curse the route.


I count the minutes as they pass,

But this man surely will not stop.

He paints himself to be an ass!

Oh, why cannot my seat be swapped?


And suddenly, his accent slows, as he draws breath, his own eyes wide;

He says, “I’m at the wrong stop, folks,” as from collective glares he hides.

Analysis badge: Voyant annotation of sonnet 9

The speakers urgency to stress the need for the man to reproduce and share his beauty with the world is made obvious by voyant.  words like widow appear very often in the reading. The young man is advised to get married and reproduce, he is told that if he doesn’t marry then the world will be his widow wife, mourning that no form of the man is left behind. words such as murd’rous and waste pop up in smaller scale, but identify the speakers urgency for the young man to reproduce and get married.

Voyant of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

With the recurring themes in Shakespeare’s sonnets I thought it would be interesting to see the recurring words in all 154 sonnets.

Here are the results:

Voyant sonnets 2

The most used word- being used 372 times- is my. I found it interesting as well that love is used 161 times. I was shocked to discover that time is only used 53 times and beauty is only used 52 times. I was so surprised that beauty and time were directly used so few times because they are such prominent themes throughout the sonnets.  Even more surprising is that glass is only used 10 times!


Here is a closer visual:

Voyant sonnets

And here is a visual of some prominent themes:

Voyant sonnets 3

These results display how in the sonnets, Shakespeare uses hidden meanings as opposed to directly saying what he meant. He expressed the same theme in multiple different ways.


Ashley Anderson



  • Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 1-154” The Oxford Shakespeare: Complete Sonnets and Poems. Ed. Colin Burrow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 383-689. Print.
  • Sinclair, S. and G. Rockwell (2015). Voyant Tools: Reveal Your Texts. Voyant. Retrieved April 5, 2015 from

My third Sonnet – Foolish Knave

She smiled with intent all too grave

She could not forge new desire

She took me for a foolish knave

She traps herself in ever mire

I care not for the foolish game

I see no reason to save her from her own folly

I will get only blame

I must push away this loaded trolley

We shall never dance

We will never fit

We can only play around the lance

We can only find our place and sit

You cared not to dig deeper

I cared not to be a big leaper


My Second Sonnet – A Green Paradise

Dwarfed by tall plants of mellow green,

Weaving the cowl of hot summers night.

I find myself lulled into a perfect seam,

A state of mind o so right.

Upon good morning the sun does shine,

A fires stoked and heartily poked.

A moving sun bids time and fine rhyme,

Heftily smoked we leave well toked.

Prancing together we have no melancholy,

Fear is not what grips our hearts,

its a vice not to folly.

Virtue comes in sweet ordered parts.

Let the flame not go out.

another round to go about.

My First Sonnet – Existential Paradox

Life’s a mystery to unforgiving flesh on aging bone.

The voids a fear of any mind,

Into the worlds paradox we are thrown.

A quest with no goal to find,

Step out of shadows and into light.

The worlds fears shape your armor.

Suited for battle, mind and flesh exercise might,

You grew ideas and stood by a proud farmer.

All crops are brought in, but so are you,

Brought to market in hopes of sale.

A penny for ones thoughts, a fallacy all too true.

A final notice in the mail.

A community for sale bears only souls,

All are held down paying heavy tolls.

Voyant – Sonnet 147

Here’s an analysis of Sonnet 147’s structure to back up its meaning, using Voyant.

The sonnet, on the surface
The sonnet, on the surface

Sonnet 147 is about the speaker who seem to have failed in love, and now sees it as what caused his sickness upon realizing that his beloved is not what she truly seemed to be.

As you can see, the love-disease metaphor is very prominent in the sonnet.

Lexical set on being sick
Lexical set on love sickness, mostly appearing on lines 1-10.

But since there are various of them pertaining to being sick, and not one being repeated, the figure below says differently. The significant words and metaphors are all far from the center, when in fact they actually carry the meaning.

Just because they're not repeated doesn't meant they're not important, Voyant.
Just because they’re not repeated doesn’t meant they’re not important, Voyant.

Then, in the middle of the sonnet, some emotional and mental states are explored.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 2.13.39 AM
They’re not the speaker’s emotions, however, but Reason’s (personified).

Starting at line 11, the speakers stops talking about being sick and he gets real. In lines 13-14, the speaker reveals the exact cause of his disease.

The speaker's beloved turned out to be "shady".
The speaker’s beloved turned out to be “shady”.
And this revelation is at the couplet at the end.
And this revelation is at the couplet at the end.

The speaker has a case of love sickness, but a different form. I guess Love Sickness B, in which the person has contracted this disease by being tricked into believing his beloved was a wonderful person.

So that’s William Shakespeare’s sonnet 147, perfect for one’s (untruthful) long list of ex-lovers.