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2   The sonnet is one of the most popular poetic forms, and writers from the medieval period to the present day have employed it.  It is a 14-line poem, usually with ten syllables in each line. There are several ways in which the lines can be organized.  In a sonnet, the poet contrasts two different ideas with each other. What is a Sonnet?

3   Every Sonnet includes a “volta,” which means turn. This indicates a change in subject matter.  EVERY SONNET SHOULD INCLUDE A VOLTA. The placement of the volta indicates they type of sonnet we are dealing with. “The Volta” (Turn)

4  Types of Sonnets The three most well-known Sonnet forms are the Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet, English (Shakespearean) Sonnet, and Spenserian Sonnet.

5   This is also called the Petrarchan Sonnet, after the poet who created the form.  Petrarch was an Italian humanist who was infatuated with a woman named Laura. His sonnets are mainly dedicated to her. Italian Sonnet

6   An Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet is divided into an octave (a group of eight lines) and a sestet (a group of six lines)  The octave proposes a problem. The sestet proposes a solution. Italian Sonnet Structure

7   Like Spenser, Shakespeare’s Sonnets are usually composed of 3 Quatrains and 1 Couplet.  However, the rhyme scheme is much simpler – abab, cdcd, efef, gg.  Shakespeare doesn’t consistently place his volta; instead, he varies the position according to the poem. Shakespearean Sonnets

8   This was invented by Edmund Spenser for use in his poetic epic The Faerie Queen.  Spenser divides his sonnets into three quatrains (4 lines) and a couplet (2 lines).  The rhyme scheme is abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee. This allows for the ideas to overlap with each other rather than to standalone.  Unlike an Italian sonnet, there isn’t a problem/resolution structure.  Spenser’s volta generally doesn’t occur until the couplet, although his use of transition words can trick you into thinking it comes earlier. Spenserian Sonnet


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