The definition of sonnet

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Shall I compare you to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

The definition of sonnet

Critics of the sonnet have recognized varying classifications, but to all essential purposes two types only need be discussed ff the student will understand that each of these two, in turn, has undergone various modifications by experimenters.

The two characteristic sonnet types are the Italian Petrarchan and the English Shakespearean. The first, the Italian form, is distinguished by its bipartite division into the octave and the sestet: On this twofold division of the Italian sonnet Charles Gayley notes: So much for the strict interpretation of the Italian form; as a matter of fact English poets have varied these items greatly.

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The octave and sestet division is not always kept; the rhyme-scheme is often varied, but within limits--no Italian sonnet properly allowing more than five rhymes. Iambic pentameter is essentially the meter, but here again certain poets have experimented with hexameter and other meters.

The English Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, is so different from the Italian though it grew from that form as to permit of a separate classification.

Instead of the octave and sestet divisions, this sonnet characteristically embodies four divisions: Thus the typical rhyme-scheme for the English sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg.

Sonnet | poetic form |

The couplet at the end is usually a commentary on the foregoing, an epigrammatic close. The Spenserian sonnet combines the Italian and the Shakespearean forms, using three quatrains and a couplet but employing linking rhymes between the quatrains, thus abab bcbc cdcd ee. Certain qualities common to the sonnet as a form should be noted.

The definition of sonnet

Its definite restrictions make it a challenge to the artistry of the poet and call for all the technical skill at the poet's command. The more or less set rhyme patterns occurring regularly within the short space of fourteen lines afford a pleasant effect on the ear of the reader, and can Create truly musical effects.

The rigidity of the form precludes a too great economy or too great prodigality of words. Emphasis is placed on exactness and perfection of expression. The sonnet as a form developed in Italy probably in the thirteenth century.

Petrarch, in the fourteenth century, raised the sonnet to its greatest Italian perfection and so gave it, for English readers, his own name. The form was introduced into England by Thomas Wyatt, who translated Petrarchan sonnets and left over thirty examples of his own in English. Surrey, an associate, shares with Wyatt the credit for introducing the form to England and is important as an early modifier of the Italian form.

Gradually the Italian sonnet pattern was changed and since Shakespeare attained fame for the greatest poems of this modified type his name has often been given to the English form.


Longfellow, Jones Very, G. Robinson are generally credited with writing some of the best sonnets in America. With the interest in this poetic form, certain poets following the example of Petrarch have written a series of sonnets linked one to the other and dealing with some unified subject.

Such series are called sonnet sequences. Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese. Vincent Millay, and W. Auden have done distinguished work in the sonnet and the sonnet sequence in this century. The brevity of the form favors concentrated expression of idea or passion.

Anti-formal or meta-formal sonnets are occasions for irony made possible by implicit reference to formality itself. In a sonnet called "Forms from the Reich University"William Heyen creates an irony based on the notion that the Germans who perpetrated the Holocaust by and large participated in a culture that had achieved greatly in aesthetic forms one might call "well-sealed.Definition, Usage and a list of Sonnet Examples in common speech and literature.

Sonnet means a small or little song or lyric.

The definition of sonnet

In poetry, a sonnet has 14 fourteen lines and is written in iambic pentameter. Sonnet: a lyric poem consisting of fourteen lines. In English, generally the two basic kinds of sonnets are the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet and the Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnet.

In English, generally the two basic kinds of sonnets are the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet and the Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnet.

Holy Sonnet 10 |

A collection of sonnets. The first sonnet sequence in English was Astrophel and Stella by Sir Philip Sidney. Other sonnet sequences include Amoretti by Spenser, Shakespeare's sonnets ( in total), Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and more recently The Glanmore Sonnets by Seamus Heaney.

Definition of Sonnet. The word sonnet is derived from the Italian word “sonetto,” which means a “little song” or small poetry, a sonnet has 14 lines, and is written in iambic line has 10 syllables.

It has a specific rhyme scheme, and a volta, or a specific turn. Crown Of Sonnets Definition. Crown Of Sonnets poem definition, form, and structure. A crown of sonnets or sonnet corona is a sequence of sonnets, usually addressed to some one person, and/or concerned with a single theme.

Before Shakespeare’s definition of love can be explained, the contradictory complexity of the first few lines of Sonnet 1 must be described. In these aforementioned lines of Sonnet 1, the author acknowledges the undeniable transience of life, love, and the outward beauty that accompanies it.

Poetry Terms: 40 Brief Definitions