Sonnets Essay

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1. Why might Sonnet 18 by Francesco Petrarcha be interpreted as a poem about defeat as much as a poem about love? Use specific examples from the text in your response. Answer: In Sonnet 18, the speaker wants to describe the beauty of his love, but can’t find the words to do so. The speaker says “Then in mid-utterance the lay was lost” when he tries to think of the words to describe his love’s beauty. Through his defeat of finding words to describe his love, he shows his love for her. 2. Read Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare now. It is located on page 73 of your Journeys anthology. What elements of this sonnet are unusual? Where is the volta, or turn, in the poem? How does the poem change at the volta? What is the central theme of the work? Answer: Instead of describing how perfect his love is or comparing her to other beautiful things, he says she is average and there is nothing special about her. At the last 2 lines of the poem, the volta changes the poem by saying that even though his love is average in beauty, his love for her is special and unique. So instead of praising her throughout the whole poem, he contrasts her average characteristics with his special love for her. 3. Read Sonnet 13 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning now. It is located on page 76 of your Journeys anthology. What does this poem say the beloved wants the speaker to do? How does she respond to his request? What does her response suggest about her and about her feelings for her beloved? Use examples from the text in your response. Answer: The beloved asks the speaker to describe how he feels about her. She begins to describe what she feels but “drops the torch” and says that she can’t do it because the words “hid in me out of reach.” Then the speaker says “Nay, let the silence of my womanhood/ Commend my woman-love to thy belief” and that her silence will have to be

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