1,143,839,622,748,050,000,000,000,000
Sonnet Anagrams

Mike Keith

The two poems above each have the form of a classical English sonnet with fourteen lines of iambic pentameter and a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg.  In addition, these sonnets are anagrams: each one can be formed by rearranging the letters in the other one.  Every time you click the button above (or reload this page) you will see a different pair of mutually-anagrammatic sonnets - one of a grand total of about one octillion (1027) available.

This is made possible by having, behind the scenes, a text consisting of 14 sets of 10 lines of iambic pentameter.  For each number n (from 1 through 14), we choose two different lines (say A and B) from set n then assign line A to the nth line in the left sonnet and line B to the nth line in the right sonnet.  The resulting poems always have reasonable grammar and sense, as a result of the way the lines are worded; in addition, the fact that the sets as a whole obey the sonnet rhyme scheme (all lines in set 1 rhyme with all lines in set 3, and so on) ensure that the sonnets rhyme properly.  Finally, the two poems are always anagrams because of this fact: all 10 lines in each of the 14 sets are anagrams of each other.

It is easy to show that

If there are n sets of k mutually-anagrammatic lines and we form two poems using this procedure then a total of

(k(k-1))n

different full-poem anagrams can be produced. 

Here we have n=14 and k=10, so the number of anagrams is 9014 2 = 1,143,839,622,748,050,000,000,000,000.