Sonnets have been used to paint a detailed picture of human emotion, tradition and culture, through the centuries. Originally, they began in the 14th century and each era inherited the collections of fourteen lined literary genius and reworked its form, subject or use of sensual imagery in order to allow the literature to represent the moods of the time. The word “sonnet” comes from the Italian word, ‘sonnetto’, meaning “little song” or little sound”. Sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, which is the term describing a particular rhythm that the verse adopts; however, there have been sonnets such as, Sir Phillip Sidney’s ‘Astrophel’ and ‘Stella’, which use iambic hexameters. Although subtle changes have caused differences between sonnets over time, there are two principal kinds that caused sonnets to be divided into Petrarchan and Elizabethan (Shakespearian) forms.
The sonnet form is like a seed, from which the two main branches have formed, but in addition sonnet forms such as: the Spenserian, the Caudate, the Curtal, the Pushkin and the indefinable sonnets, have come about and created further branches throughout time. The Petrarchan branch of sonnets are formed of two divisions: the octave, eight lines of poetry which have the rhyming pattern ‘abba abba’, and the sestet, six lines of poetry with the rhyming pattern ‘cde cde’. The Petrarchan sonnets were named after Francesco Petrarcha, an Italian humanist and poet. They are set out as firstly introducing a problem, a reflection, a situation of doubt or conflict, or to express a desire (the octave) and then the second section comments on the issue or makes a suggestion of a solution. Formed from the Petrarchan form, was the Elizabethan (Shakespearean) style of sonnet, introduced by Thomas Wyatt in the 16th century. However, the contemporary rhyming meter was adapted by the Earl of Surrey. The most influential sonnet... [continues]
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