Sequences and clusters
in Reading poetry
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Lyric poems are usually brief and compressed utterances, so it would be surprising if poets always wrote just a single poem on each theme or topic that interested them. A rough distinction between the sequence and the cluster is that the former is usually intended as a group from the outset. The former is given a distinct structure with recognisable phases in the Elizabethan sonnet sequences of William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, or Edmund Spenser. Spenser's sonnet sequence Amoretti and Epithalamion was published in 1595, and records the progress of his protracted courtship of the Irish heiress Elizabeth Boyle, when he was in his forties. A sonnet sequence usually has a gradual shift of atmosphere which becomes evident as it goes on.


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