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What is this thing called poetry? Lecture Four: The Sonnet Poetic form is a poem's involvement with different types of meter, rhyme, and stanza structure.

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Presentation on theme: "What is this thing called poetry? Lecture Four: The Sonnet Poetic form is a poem's involvement with different types of meter, rhyme, and stanza structure."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is this thing called poetry? Lecture Four: The Sonnet Poetic form is a poem's involvement with different types of meter, rhyme, and stanza structure. A sonnet is a type of poetic form. The basic requirements of a traditional sonnet are the following:  A lyric poem of 14 lines  Use of iambic pentameter rhyme scheme  Two basic kinds of sonnets: The Italian or Petrarchan: ABBA ABBA CDECDE or ABBA ABBA CDCDCD (there is frequently variation in the use of the c, d, and e rhymes) The English or Shakespearean: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG (with 7 rhymes instead of 4 or 5, this allowed more flexibility in English)  Use of a Volta: The place at which a distinct turn of thought occurs; a transition point in the argument of the poem. A sonnet often consists of two parts: dividing them is the volta, or turn. A problem, question or state of mind is often presented in the first section of a sonnet and then, from the volta or turn of thought, is resolved or given new perspective in the second.  Sonnets are often written in sequences: this lecture examines 3 sonnets from famous sonnet sequences, Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609), Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) and Wanda Coleman’s American Sonnets, 1994.

2 Shakespearean or English Sonnet A lyric poem in iambic pentameter (iambic = an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable) (pentameter = 5 stresses per line) Rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg 3 quatrains (4 lines of verse) and a concluding couplet Useful websites “Types of Poetry”: “Learning the Sonnet: A history and how-to guide to the famous form” by Rachel Richardson: Information about the sonnet form in the “Learning Lab” Glossary at the Poetry Foundation website: term/sonnethttp://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary- term/sonnet “Intro to Poetry”:

3 Sonnet 18 – William Shakespeare Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

4 William Shakespeare: “Sonnet 18” English Sonnet – 3 Quatrains and a Couplet Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? a Thou art more lovely and more temperate: b Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, a And summer's lease hath all too short a date: b Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, c And often is his gold complexion dimmed, d And every fair from fair sometime declines, c By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed: d But thy eternal summer shall not fade, e Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st, f Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade, e When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st, f So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, g So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. g See Productions of Time for useful notes to this poem and its structure  Volta 

5 WHAT does ‘Sonnet 18’ seek to do? Love poem To praise the beloved To make the reader feel what the speaker feels To question or examine the conventions of love poetry To illustrate what love poetry is and what it can accomplish HOW does ‘Sonnet 18’ do what it does? Form – the poem uses a form associated with love poetry to question the conventions of love poetry. The sonnet form suits the argument of the poem by using the characteristic volta to change the line of argument after the second quatrain and using the couplet for emphasis. Design – the poem begins with a question about making metaphorical comparisons and ends by asserting the power of poetry to capture the beloved. Move from “a summer’s day” to “eternal summer” in “eternal lines” Diction – deliberate use of high blown poetic diction which is undercut by scrutiny Tone – playful, ironic and skeptical at first and then assertive and declarative

6 Sonnet 18 = a self-reflexive or meta-textual poem This love poem begins with a question about how to write a love poem. A poem about writing poetry Speaker/lover details the inadequacy of all metaphorical comparisons. Sonnet form suits the argument of the poem.

7 “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” Elizabeth Barret Browning ( ) “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” Elizabeth Barret Browning ( ) How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. a I love thee to the depth and breadth and height b My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight b For the ends of being and ideal grace. a I love thee to the level of every day’s a Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. b I love thee freely, as men strive for right; b I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. a I love thee with the passion put to use c In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. d I love thee with a love I seemed to lose c With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, d Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, c I shall but love thee better after death. d Dame Judi Dench reads Elizabeth Barrett Browning's “How Do I Love Thee?” dench_creation 6 March 2014 Uses repetition or anaphora for effect Regular rhyme scheme, but flexible: use of near rhyme and assonance Use of careful punctuation for pace and emotion Shift in repetition in final line echoes marriage vows

8 Variations on the Sonnet form: “American Sonnet (35)” in American Sonnets, boooooooo. spooky ripplings of icy waves. this a umpteenth time she returns—this invisible woman b long on haunting short on ectoplasm b “you’re a good man, sistuh,” a lover sighed solongago. “keep your oil slick and your motor running.” wretched stained mirrors within mirrors of fractured webbings like nests of manic spiders reflect her ruined mien (rue wiggles remorse squiggles woe jiggles bestride her). oozy Manes spill out yonder spooling in night’s lofty hour exudes her gloom and spew in rankling odor of heady dour as she strives to retrieve flesh to cloak her bones again to thrive to keep her poisoned id alive usta be young usta be gifted—still black Wanda Coleman reads “American sonnet 35” Use of internal rhyme instead of end rhyme.Experimental wordplay and punctuation. Deliberate playfulness extends sonnet form with African-American cadences Poem’s powerful impact depends on re-writing a quotation in final stanza

9 The resonance of just one line of verse: “usta be young usta be gifted —still black” Nina Simone sings “Young, Gifted and Black” from the album Black Gold (1970) Lorraine Hansberry

10 I hope that the readers of my poetry will look back and find it dreadfully passé and that the emotional, social and oft political issues I confront are things of the savage past and God bless ’em. That a significant portion of the work of Langston Hughes, or Mark Twain, remains relevant … speaks volumes about what little progress has been made on those emotional, social and aesthetic fronts when it comes to discussions on race relations. Electing a Black president has not uprooted or effectively mitigated the racism that continues to dominate American discourse even when couched or unspoken. …. To Hell and Damnation with timelessness. I want my poems to go out of date as fast as possible. (Wanda Coleman, “What does a Black Poem Look Like?” Blog Post on Harriet April 9th, 2011)

11 Ectoplasm noun 1. BIOLOGY dated the more viscous, clear outer layer of the cytoplasm in amoeboid cells. 2. a supernatural viscous substance that supposedly exudes from the body of a medium during a spiritualistic trance and forms the material for the manifestation of spirits. Look up the meanings of:  Mien  Rue  Exude  Rank  Dour  Id  any other words you don’t know boooooooo. spooky ripplings of icy waves. this umpteenth time she returns—this invisible woman long on haunting short on ectoplasm “you’re a good man, sistuh,” a lover sighed solongago. “keep your oil slick and your motor running.” wretched stained mirrors within mirrors of fractured webbings like nests of manic spiders reflect her ruined mien (rue wiggles remorse squiggles woe jiggles bestride her). oozy Manes spill out yonder spooling in night’s lofty hour exudes her gloom and spew in rankling odor of heady dour as she strives to retrieve flesh to cloak her bones again to thrive to keep her poisoned id alive usta be young usta be gifted—still black “American Sonnet (35)”: Developing your vocabulary

12 Poetic Byway: A Glossary of Poetic Terms Poetic Byway: A Glossary of Poetic Terms Click on the underlined words to go to the GLOSSARY on the net  RHYME In the specific sense, a type of echoing which utilizes a correspondence of sound in the final accented vowels and all that follows of two or more words, but the preceding consonant sounds must differ, as in the words, bear and care. In a broader poetic sense, however, rhyme refers to a close similarity of sound as well as an exact correspondence; it includes the agreement of vowel sounds in assonance and the repetition of consonant sounds in consonance and alliteration. Usually, but not always, rhymes occur at the ends of lines.assonanceconsonancealliteration Terms like near rhyme, half rhyme, and perfect rhyme function to distinguish between the types of rhyme and are NOT value judgments.near rhymehalf rhymeperfect rhyme  PERFECT RHYME : Also called true rhyme or exact rhyme, a rhyme which meets the following requirements: (1) an exact correspondence in the vowel sound and, in words ending in consonants, the sound of the final consonant PERFECT RHYME  NEAR RHYME: Also called approximate rhyme, slant rhyme, off rhyme, imperfect rhyme, or half rhyme, a rhyme in which the sounds are similar, but not exact. E.g home and come or close and lose. half rhyme Most near rhymes are types of consonance. Due to changes in pronunciation, some near rhymes in modern English were perfect rhymes when they were originally written in Old English.consonanceperfect rhymes  END RHYME: A rhyme occurring in the terminating word or syllable of one line of poetry with that of another line, as opposed to internal rhyme.rhymeinternal rhyme  INTERNAL RHYME Also called middle rhyme, a rhyme occurring within the line. The rhyme may be with words within the line but not at the line end, or with a word within the line and a word at the end of the line.  MASCULINE RHYME A rhyme occurring in words of one syllable or in an accented final syllable, such as light and sight or arise and surprise.(Contrast Feminine Rhyme)Feminine Rhyme  FEMININE RHYME A rhyme occurring on an unaccented final syllable, e.g. dining and shining or motion and ocean. Feminine rhymes are double or disyllabic rhymes rhymedisyllabic rhymes  BROKEN RHYME Also called split rhyme, a rhyme produced by dividing a word at the line break to make a rhyme with the end word of another line.rhyme

13 More Useful Links of Interest Famous Black Writers Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861) Sonnets from the Portuguese online ese/menu.html Elizabeth Browning remembered in Google Doodle Wanda Coleman (1946–2013) Wanda Coleman, “What does a Black Poem Look Like?” (Blog Post on Harriet April 9th, 2011) More from American Sonnets online: NPR: “Book News: Wanda Coleman, L.A.'s 'Unofficial Poet Laureate,' Dies” poet-laureate-dies

14 Vocabulary: M.H. Abrams Glossary of Literary Terms Sonnet – one of the oldest verse forms. 14 lines of verse. Italian or Petrarchan (abbaabba cdecde) (Octave and Sestet) English or Shakespearean (ababcdcdefefgg) (3 quatrains and a couplet) Stanza – a grouping of verse lines in a poemQuatrain – 4 lines of verse or a four line stanza formOctave – (in a Petrarchan sonnet) 8 lines of verseSestet – (in a Petrarchan sonnet) 6 lines of verseCouplet – (in a Shakespearean sonnet) a pair of rhymed lines


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