Visualizing Rhyme Patterns in Sonnet Sequences

Hartmut F. W. Höft
Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2015)
Pages 363–366 Short Papers


In this paper I visualize rhyme patterns of sonnet sequences as rectangular colored bands. My examples from three different poets, Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586), William Wordsworth (1770–1850), and Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), demonstrate the expressive freedom poets have even under the constraints of rhyme patterns for sonnets. These colored bands in the plane provide a comprehensive view of dozens of sonnets at a glance. In the second half of the paper I use the colored bands just for their visual effect, “painting” them onto surfaces in space. Appropriate choice of parameters for a band produces a self-intersecting surface while keeping the band sequence intact. When the band of rhyme patterns is wrapped around a surface, covering the same surface mesh periodically, small computational differences in the coordinates of the mesh points can lead to intriguing, non-uniform color patterns.