Triple Crown is the only triple heroic crown of sonnets in the English language. I believe it is the only such poetic work in any language.
A crown of sonnets is a series of sonnets linked one to another, such that the last line of one poem is repeated as the first line of the subsequent poem. This process continues until the loop is closed by the last line of the last poem’s being repeated as the first line of the first poem. A classic example of this is the exquisite seven poem crown of sonnets by John Donne entitled, aptly enough, La Corona.
A heroic crown of sonnets is a sonnet crown consisting of fourteen poems linked as described above. The added feature which makes the heroic crown more than simply a longer collection of poems is that the linking (repeated) lines of poetry themselves comprise another sonnet. Thus, a fifteenth sonnet is implicit in the fourteen sonnets explicitly stated in the heroic crown. This fifteenth sonnet is called the magistral sonnet. As an added feature, the magistral sonnet is often an acrostic, with the acronym embedded within it pithily summarizing the theme of the entire set.
One can represent a heroic crown of sonnets, then, as a series of small filled circles linked together by a larger circle, something like beads on a necklace. It will be readily apparent that one could have three such circles, with each circle intersecting the other two at two places. One of the sites of intersection is common to all three circles. (See figure on book cover.) Each cycle of poetry, therefore, will contain three poems whose first lines also serve as first lines in poems of the other two cycles. This is the fundamental structure of Triple Crown.
Triple Crown tells three interlocking stories. Creation is described, admixing Biblical description, kabbalistic mysticism, and modern physics. The history of the conflicts of the three great kings of Israel—Saul, David, and Solomon—is told in their voices. Finally, the story of Job and his suffering is reviewed from the viewpoint of Job himself. The introduction to the book gives a more extensive description of the book, and I recommend to the reader that he read the introduction before he reads the poems.
Opposite each poem in the book is a diagram indicating where, in the total structure, the poem lies. This should help keep the reader apprised as to his location within the entire work.
Triple Crown is not a collection of poems. It is a unified work. It is intended to be read in the order presented. It merits re-reading.
Eric Chevlen is a medical oncologist living in Youngstown, Ohio. He is the author of Triple Crown, the only triple heroic crown of sonnets in the English language.
Lucky Pierre Published April 12, 2007