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Published byElmer Peters Modified over 7 years ago
INTRODUCTION TO SONNETS
THE SONNET FORM 14 lines long Fixed rhythmic pattern: iambic pentameter The word “sonnet” in Italian means “little poem.” Common themes: love, beauty, timeless love, unrequited (unreturned) love, love in absence, old age, conformity, gaining immortality through verse (writing poems), gaining immortality through offspring (children), life is like a play, striving for perfection, farewell It was common practice to write ingenious, charming and traditional poems to a lady - a courtly, chivalrous custom. Sonnets usually included clever, original and innovative word play. Punning, using the same word in different capacities was often employed. Famous sonneteers: Petrarch wrote to Laura, Dante to Beatrice, and Shakespeare to the fair young man (#1-126), the dark lady (#127-152) and a rival poet (#153-154)
ITALIAN SONNETS: Became popular during the Italian Renaissance, the 1200’s – 1300’s Octave: first 8 lines: states the theme or the experience; the rhyme scheme: ABBAABBA Sestet: last 6 lines: responds to or comments on the theme; rhyme scheme: CDECDE Italian poets wrote sonnet sequences, groups of tightly constructed love poems in cycles, unified by the central theme of love. From Italy this form moved north and west to Spain and France, and then English poets brought it back with them from their travels abroad.
ENGLISH SONNETS: Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, published the first English sonnets in Totel’s Miscellany in 1557. These two men are credited with bringing the sonnet form to England. Edmund Spenser published his sonnets in Amoretti in 1595 and developed his own rhyme scheme: ABABCBCBCDCDEE. Shakespeare published his sonnet sequence in 1609 (154 poems). Shakespearean sonnets are also known as Elizabethan sonnets or English sonnets and have: 14 lines 3 quatrains and one rhymed couplet (3 x 4 = 12; 12 + 2 = 14) The first quatrain states the theme; the second and third quatrains develop the theme, and the rhymed couplet provides a summary or a clever statement or twist on the topic. Rhyme Scheme: ABABCDCDEFEFGG Note to Students: Rhyme was sometimes visual, such as bough and rough or have and gave, and these pairs of words were read to sound as approximate rhyme.
SONNET CRITERIA SUMMARY: 14 lines long: either an octave and a sestet, or 3 quatrains and a couplet 10 syllables per line Fixed rhythm scheme: meter: iambic pentameter (five unaccented & accented “poetic feet”) Fixed rhyme scheme: Italian: ABBAABBACDECDE, or English: ABABCDCDEFEFGG
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