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.
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.
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.