Cycle of poems

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A cycle of poems is a large literary form that combines several poems into a superordinate unit, which testifies to an increased artistic will to build and form. In addition to its independence, the individual poem receives a new function when viewed in the context of the cycle and, under certain circumstances, a new meaning or additional aspects of interpretation.


An ideal of cyclic structure, it may be all the poems of the cycle-present around one in each part of the whole, to circulate only from the whole determinable center but unnamed or so, the poems that, analogous to a musical composition form when variations on represent a subject. A cyclical conception can extend to the entire lyric works of a poet, e.g. B. with Oskar Loerke : the volumes of poetry conceived as a cycle themselves form a single large cycle. Within a volume of poetry that is designed as a cycle, there are often smaller sub-cycles, e.g. B. in the form of individual "books" or "parts" - so there is z. B. Stefan Georges The seventh ring from seven books laid out as cycles.

In a broader sense of the term, a multi-part poem - for example several numbered poems under a common title - is referred to as a cycle of poems , e.g. B. by Rainer Maria Rilke poems like Die Insel (3 parts) or Die Parke (7 parts).

For modern lyric poetry, the cycle of poems Les Fleurs du Mal ( The Flowers of Evil ) by Charles Baudelaire gained outstanding importance as a reflection on a new creative will. Baudelaire attached great importance, especially in the first edition, to an internal, also numerical, architecture of his volume of poetry. The principles of the baroque and medieval poetry were thus reaffirmed and linked to specifically modern content.

Less structured compilations of poems by an author are usually referred to as a collection of poems or, if it relates to a specific publication, a collection of poems .

Well-known poetry cycles

Contemporary poetry


  • Rolf Fieguth , Alessandro Martini (ed.): The architecture of the clouds. Cyclization in 19th century European poetry . Peter Lang Verlag, Bern 2005, ISBN 3-03910-399-7 .
  • Cordula Gerhard: The legacy of the "large form". Studies on the formation of cycles in expressionist poetry (European university publications / series 1: German language and literature; vol. 910). Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 1986, ISBN 3-8204-8770-0 (also dissertation, University of Bochum 1985).
  • Helen Meredith Mustard: The Lyric Cycle in German Literature . King's Crown Press, New York 1946 (also dissertation, Columbia University New York 1946).