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Shakespearean Sonnets' rhymes analysis

Posted 3 months ago
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Shakespearean sonnets are composed with the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG , which means that each verse with the same label needs to rhyme. An example is the famous sonnet 18:

A: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
B: Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
A: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
B: And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

C: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
D: And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
C: And every fair from fair sometime declines,
D: By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed.

E: But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
F: Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
E: Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
F: When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.

G: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
G: So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

To analyse the rhymes we first import it into Mathematica:

sonnets = Select[StringTrim@StringSplit[#, "\n"] & /@
StringSplit[ToLowerCase@Import@"Shakespeare's Sonnets.txt", "\n\n"], Length@# == 14 &];

*The file is attached below and we select only sonnets with 14 verses (there are 2 outside this pattern).

The next step is the select the last word of each verse and remove punctuation:

lastWords = Map[Last@*StringSplit, sonnets, {2}] //. s_String :> StringReplace[s, {
    RegularExpression@"[,.;:!?-]$" -> "",
    RegularExpression@"'(.+)'" -> "$1",
    RegularExpression@"(.+)[,.;:!?]'" -> "$1"}

*The code is a bit awkward, but it works...

Using the rhyme scheme, we pair the words that rhyme to form a graph:

data = Union@Flatten@Table[Thread[lastWords[[All, i]] \[DirectedEdge] 
lastWords[[All, i+If[i==13,1,2]]]], {i, {1,2,5,6,9,10,13}}];

We are now ready to plot a graph of the word rhymes and segment each graph since most of them are disjoint.

(g=Graph[data]) // WeaklyConnectedComponents;
Select[Union /@ %, Length@# > 6 &] // Reverse@*SortByLength;
Manipulate[Subgraph[g, %[[i]], VertexLabels -> "Name", ImageSize -> 600], 
{i, 1, Length@%, 1}]

In the graph bellow you can see that key ([kee]) rhymes with survey (ser-vey) in Shakespeare time, hence it was probably pronouced [key].


A more in deep analysis of this subject can be found in the NativLang video What Shakespeare's English Sounded Like - and how we know.

3 Replies

Thales, this is quite nice! BTW I think you did not define SortByLength. I thought I should recreate this in a bit different manner. Note various places, such as using TextCases and TextWords to simplify regular expressions processing. I started from resource data - we can search for availability:

ResourceSearch["Shakespeares Sonnets"]

enter image description here

Then download the data:

raw = ResourceData["Shakespeare's Sonnets"];

This will split into separate sonnets and delete noise such as roman numeral for sonnet number:

sonnets = Select[TextCases[raw, "Paragraph"], StringLength[#] > 10 &];

So we have Length@sonnets 154 sonnets. Some do not have 14 lines

In[]:= Position[Length/@StringSplit[sonnets,"\n"],x_/;x!=14]
Out[]= {{39},{99},{126}}

so we delete them:

sonnets14 = DeleteCases[sonnets, 
   Alternatives @@ Extract[sonnets, {{39}, {99}, {126}}]];

Find last words in every line:

lastWords = Map[Last[TextWords[#]] &, StringSplit[sonnets14, "\n"], {2}]

and following the rhyming pattern you suggested:

rhymePatt = {1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 7, 6, 8, 9, 11, 10, 12, 13, 14};

we can build the graph (I chose undirected graph, for alternative sake):

g = Graph[UndirectedEdge @@@ Flatten[Partition[#[[rhymePatt]], 2] & /@ lastWords, 1]]

enter image description here

And finally computing subgraphs

subGra = Subgraph[g, #, VertexLabels -> "Name", 
     PlotTheme -> "Minimal", BaseStyle -> Opacity[.4], 
     ImageSize -> 500 {1, 1}] & /@ ConnectedComponents[g];

and building the app - I kept multiple edges to see what is more frequently used:

enter image description here

Thank you, Vitaliy.

It's always so nice to see our code being rewritten in another form (in a far more understandable way, I might add). I might read the doc about ResourceSearch again and try to use it more in the future.

PlotTheme -> "Minimal" gives a really pretty result!

BTW I think you did not define SortByLength.

It's part of a collection of functions I have defined. I have been using these so much that I forgot they weren't part of Mathematica. I might create a post sometime with some handy custom functions.

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