Sonnet Essay

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Definition of A Sonnet The word sonnet comes from the Italian word “sonetto” which means “little song”. A sonnet has come to be known generally as a poem containing fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. Traditionally, sonnets have been classified into groups based on the ryhme scheme. William Shakespeare wrote his sonnets to rhyme: abab cdcd efef gg. Sonnets which follow this rhyme scheme are called Shakespearean Sonnets. There are also Petrarchan and Spenserian Sonnets which are based on rhyme schemes used by Edmund Spenser and Francesco Petrarca respectively. Sonnets also generally contain a volta, or turn. This is a subtle device used to distract the reader from the monotonous beat of the iambic pentameter. When you turn from a set direction while driving, you may only veer a little to the left or right. You may turn 90 degrees right or left. Or, you may do a 180 degree u-turn. Likewise, the volta may be a subtle shift or a complete reversal of direction. Writers have used various devices to indicate the turn as well as placing the turn in different places. The Shakespearean Sonnet generally places the volta after the eighth line. Sonnet Types The Petrarchan or Italian sonnet is named for the 14th century Italian poet Francesco Petrarch who popularized the sonnet form. The petrarchan sonnet has a set rhyme scheme. The first eight lines, or octet, rhyme as follows: abba abba The last six lines, or sestet, can have various rhyme schemes. The beginning of the sestet marks the volta, or turn in the sonnet. The sestet is often viewed as the solution to a problem posed in the octet. A Shakespearean sonnet is written in iambic pentameter, which means that each line is 10 syllables long. The rhythm of each line should be like this: soft-LOUD-soft-LOUD-soft-LOUD-soft-LOUD-soft-LOUD All sonnets have fourteen lines. A Shakespearean

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