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How to write a Shakespearean Sonnet

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1 How to write a Shakespearean Sonnet

2 The man who writes a good love sonnet needs not only to be enamored of a woman, but also to be enamored of the sonnet. ~C.S. Lewis~

3 Let’s start by brainstorming
Let’s start by brainstorming. Make sure you have a paper and pencil handy. A good eraser is also recommended! Now, let’s begin. What do you want to say in your sonnet? A lot of sonnets pertain to love in some way, but yours doesn’t have to. If you are having trouble coming up with some ideas, here are some things to think about: -school -seasons -jealousy -forgiveness -loving from afar -not loving someone back -sports -losing a loved one -falling in love -a pet -a problem -an emotion

4 Now that you have your topic, think of a metaphor that you want to use throughout your sonnet. Try to think of something that wouldn’t normally be compared to your topic, and then figure out ways that they are similar. Once you have your metaphor and how you want to compare it to your topic, write it down so you don’t forget it later. Try to avoid tired metaphors and come up with some originals! Instead of “His eyes were black as night” try “his eyes glittered coal” Instead of “Her lips were red as roses” try “Heaven painted her crimson lips” Work on vivid words and avoid ordinary linking verbs such as are, was, were, is, can, be, etc.

5 Now that you know all the different sections of the Shakespearean sonnet and understand how each one functions, you’re almost ready to write one of your own. We just need to go over a few things about style and form first. All Shakespearean sonnets require the following stylistically: 3 quatrains 1 couplet 14 lines ABABCDCDEFEFGG rhyme scheme Iambic pentameter

6 Quatrain #1: These four lines introduce the main metaphor and theme of the sonnet.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. Here, we find out that this poem is about a man who’s growing old. He’s comparing his life to the changing of the seasons. The year is coming to a close as fall slowly gives way to winter, and so too is his life. In the first line he makes it clear that he is addressing another person, as he uses the word “thou.” This is the first stage of the sonnet’s argument.

7 Quatrain #2: The metaphor and the theme are continued and a creative illustration is usually given to further the ideas of the first quatrain. In me thou seest the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. We see the same theme continued here, only now the man has shifted from comparing himself to the end of the year to the end of a day. He has narrowed down his argument from a year to a day. This makes the poem seem more urgent because days pass much more quickly than years do. The creative example we see here is the reference to night being “death’s second self.”

8 Quatrain #3: This is where your turn occurs
Quatrain #3: This is where your turn occurs. This is where you reflect on your topic, take it in a new direction, or extend your metaphor in an unexpected way. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by. Here, the argument continues and the metaphor shifts to something even more fleeting than a day—a dying fire.

9 Couplet: These two lines summarize the entire sonnet and give the reader something new to think about. They often act as the “thesis” of the poem. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long. Here, Shakespeare does not continue with another metaphor. The speaker explains that the reason the other person loves him so strongly is because he/she knows that the speaker will soon die. They must experience all the love they can now, before he passes away. This acts as the thesis because he states that their love is strong, and uses the first three quatrains to tell us why their love is strong.

10 Now poets. . . Write your own sonnet!

11 Congratulations. You’ve just written your own Shakespearean sonnet
Congratulations! You’ve just written your own Shakespearean sonnet! Now remember, just because you’ve finished doesn’t mean you’re done. Good writing is all about revision. The next slide will give you some ways revise it and give it that Renaissance flair!

12 Write like a Shakespearean!
If you have an extra syllable in a line, do what Shakespeare does: take out a vowel or two and replace with an apostrophe. Growest = grow’st Need and extra syllable? Add a diacritical mark worked = worked Make sure the last word in the line is easy to rhyme Throw in some Elizabethan pronouns You = Thy, Thine, Thee Your = Thou My = Mine Add a literary apostrophe by addressing an inanimate object with `O ; for example, `O, thy beautiful textbook! And if you are really creative, try to invert a sentence by changing the order of the words. This also may help if you are stuck on trying to figure out a rhyme. “My heart will love you always” becomes “Always will mine heart love thee.”

13 Assignment Write your sonnet and make sure you have the following:
14 lines (3 quatrains and a couplet) Rhyme scheme abab/cdcd/efef/gg 10 syllables per line in an iambic pattern if possible Interesting metaphor(s), vivid verbs, Shakespearean pronouns (thy, thou, thee, etc. Using pencil, check your sonnet by filling it in on the grid that is the back of your Sonnet 18 worksheet.

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