"Daños, engaños y desengaños, frutos son de los años": the semantic value of rhyme in the Spanish baroque sonnets on the transience of life
Keywords:Spanish Golden Age, Baroque poetry, tempus fugit, semantic rhyme
One of the most recurring Baroque themes is without a doubt the topic of tempus fugit, which inspired numerous contemplations about the ephemeral nature of life, the brevity of the earthly existence and the omnipresence of death. The obsession with the passing of time in the Spanish Baroque sonnets on the ephemerality of life can also be observed on the level of rhyme, which far from being merely an ornamental item, actually contributes important semantic value to the poem. Rhymes such as años/daños/engaños/desengaños or mañana/vana, jornada/nada reappear almost obsessively throughout the corpus of Baroque poetry and form semantic knots that highlight the principal theme of the sonnet. Similarly, pairs of words such as encina/ruina, vida/desvanecida, humano/gusano, besos/huesos, are closely related despite different meanings, drawing attention to the devastating eff ects of the passage of time. The insatiable quest for suggestive rhymes by Golden Age poets is doubtless due to the aesthetic orientation of Baroque art that tends to combine decorative virtuosity with the intellectual subtlety. The semantic rhyme thus functions as one of the axis of the meaning, as an echo resonating the poetic message, and likewise as a means of fulfilling the Baroque search for thematic unity. The rhyme in the Baroque sonnets is integrated thematically with the text, in the same manner as a pillar supporting a Baroque facade is subjected to the effect of absolute architectural unity.
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