The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Sonnet sequence (sonnet cycle)
sonnet sequence (sonnet cycle): A series or group of sonnets interconnected by subject and written by one poet. The sonnet sequence frequently explores the theme of love and the poet’s fluctuating attitudes toward it.
Form may also be used to heighten the unity of the sequence. In a corona, or crown of sonnets, the last line of each sonnet serves as the first line of the next, and the last line of the final sonnet echoes the first line of the opening one, thereby coming full circle. An even more demanding form, the sonnet redoublé, consists of a corona of fourteen sonnets succeeded by a final, fifteenth sonnet in which all of the prior linking lines are repeated, in order.
EXAMPLES: Anne Locke’s A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner (1560), the first sonnet sequence written in English; William Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, first published as Shake-Speares Sonnets (1609); Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850); Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The House of Life (1881); Rupert Brooke’s 1914 (1915); Marilyn Nelson’s A Wreath for Emmett Till (2005), a fifteen-sonnet corona memorializing the brutal, racially motivated murder of a fourteen-year-old African-American boy in 1955; and Patricia Smith’s fifteen-poem sonnet redoublé Motown Crown (2009).