The Petrarchan Sonnet The Petrarchan Sonnet consists of fourteen lines that are broken down into two stanzas: an eightline octave and the six line sestet. 1.In the octave portion, a problem or dilemma is presented, which is later worked through and solved in the sestet. 2.Each line is written in iambic pentameter, which means that it will have ten syllables per line with the stress on every second beat: daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM daDUM. Octave When writing your octave, aside from remembering your rhyme and meter, you want to explore the dilemma thoroughly. Sound out each line by counting the beats. At first this might seem awkward, but with practice it will become second nature. The octave is generally formatted in one eight-line block, but you can break it down into two quatrains(four lines each) if it makes the writing process easier. 1.The purpose of the octave is to present a problem or dilemma. 2.The theme is established in the first quatrain and developed in the second. 3.It is comprised of two quatrains that break down into the rhyme pattern a-b-b-a a-b-b-a. Some 13th Century sonnets have outlasted 13th Century cathedrals.(Public Domainphoto from National Archives)For example, let's take a look at the octave of John Milton's Sonnet XIX. In the transcription below, the stressed syllables in Quatrain Oneare in all caps. The rhyme pattern is marked in parenthesis at the end of each line. Quatrain One:when I conSIDer HOW my LIGHT is SPENT,(a)ere HALF my DAYS in THIS dark WORLD and WIDE,(b)and THAT one TALent WHICH is DEATH to HIDE(b)lodged WITH me USEless, THOUGH my SOUL more BENT(a)Quatrain Two:To serve therewith my Maker, and present(a)My true account, lest He returning chide,(b)'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?' (b)I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent(a)-courtesy of LuminariumJohn Milton wrote this poem about losing his eyesight, and that dilemma is clearly established in the first quatrain, then further developed in the second quatrain.