How to Write a Sonnet Ashton ChismEnglish 1301M.B. FranklinNovember 2, 2015
Step 1: Understanding Before you can begin ANY project, you must first completely understand what it is that you are trying to achieve. With that in mind, we must first know the definition of the word sonnet. Sonnet 1.Prosody. a poem, properly expressive of a single, complete thought,idea, or sentiment, of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, with rhymes arranged according to one of certain definite schemes, being in the strict or Italian form divided into a major group of 8 lines (the octave) followed by a minor group of 6 lines (the sestet), and in a common English form into 3 quatrains followed by a couplet.
Step 1: Understanding Continued:Now I know what you’re thinking… iambic pentameter? Sestet? Octave? Don’t freak out on my just yet, these words are aren’t near as scary as they may seem. Before you can fully understand what a sonnet is, you need to know the things that make up the building blocks of a sonnet.
For you visual learners, this graph may help!
Step 2: HistoryNow that we are starting to understand what a sonnet is, it is important to know what types of sonnets there are, and where they come from. Originating in Italy, the Italian sonnet was established by Petrarch in the 14th century as a major form of love poetry, and came to be adopted in Spain, France and England in the 16th century, and in Germany in the 17th.The Italian sonnet (also called the Petrarchan sonnet after the most influential of the Italian sonneteers) comprises an 8-line 'octave' of two quatrains, rhymed abbaabba, followed by a 6-line 'sestet' usually rhymed cdecde or cdcdcd. The transition from octave to sestet usually coincides with a 'turn' (Italian, volta) in the argument or mood of the poem. In a variant form used by the English poet John Milton, however, the 'turn' is delayed to a later position around the tenth line. Some later poets--notably William Wordsworth--have employed this feature of the 'Miltonic sonnet' while relaxing the rhyme scheme of the octave to abbaacca.The Italian pattern has remained the most widely used in English and other languages.The English sonnet (also called the Shakespearean sonnet after its foremost practitioner) comprises three quatrains and a final couplet, rhyming ababcdcdefefgg.An important variant of this is the Spenserian sonnet (introduced by the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser), which links the three quatrains by rhyme, in the sequence ababbabccdcdee. In either form, the 'turn' comes with the final couplet, which may sometimes achieve the neatness of an epigram.