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Sonnet

The term sonnet originates from the Italian language, meaning little sound or song. Taking from this meaning, the sonnet is a modest 14-line lyrical poem, typically written in iambic pentameter with a defined rhyme scheme. Another tenet of the sonnet is that it express a single theme or sentiment, often fully developed in the last couple of lines.

The two most well-known types of sonnets are the Petrarchan Sonnet (also known as the Italian Sonnet), which was deftly executed by Petrarch in the 14th century, and the Shakespearean Sonnet (also known as the English Sonnet), which was crafted and refined by its namesake, William Shakespeare.

The Petrarchan Sonnet consists of 14-lines that are divided into two parts, the first consisting of eight lines (octave) with the rhyme scheme: abbaabba, and the second part consisting of six lines (sestet) with the rhyme scheme: cdecde (though there are variations, including: cdcdcd). The most important requisite for the Petrarchan Sonnet is the absence of the closing couplet. An example showing just the last end-rhymed words would be:

... fish (a)
... crate (b)
... fate (b)
... wish (a)
... finish (a)
... deflate (b)
... date (b)
... dish (a)

... code (c)
... back (d)
... inflate (e)
... abode (c)
... flack (d)
... bereate (e)

The Shakespearean Sonnet consists of 14-lines that are divided into three four-line sections (each called a quatrain), and a concluding section of just two lines: a rhyming or closed couplet. Each quatrain has an alternating rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, and efef. The final rhyming couplet has the rhyme scheme: gg. An example showing just the last end-rhymed words would be:

... desire (a)
... rough (b)
... fire (a)
... tough (b)

... drive (c)
... mast (d)
... hive (c)
... cast (d)

... cart (e)
... disc (f)
... dart (e)
... brisk (f)

... maze (g)
... gaze (g)


Poets of Interest:

William Shakespeare



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