Sonnets and the Form of

Topics: Poetry, Sonnet, Iambic pentameter Pages: 3 (1124 words) Published: May 9, 2011
Some poems have definite patterns and structures, one of the most common poems are sonnets. The structure of a sonnet helps explain what the sonnet is saying and might have underlying meaning in the sonnet. Three sonnets that are affected by their structure are, “Sonnet” written by Billy Collins, “A Wedding Sonnet for the Next Generation” by Judith Viorst, and “My Mistress’ Eyes are nothing Like the Sun” by William Shakespeare. Sonnets are fourteen line poems that, most regularly, are found with an eight line section (octave) and a six line section (sestet). The octave is commonly divided into two four line sections (each called a quatrain), and the sestet into a four line part and a couplet. There is usually a “shift” in the poems mood and tone after the octave. There is a couple of different ways of describing this shift; one is to say that in the octave “this happens.” And the sestet says “therefore I feel this way” or gives the ultimate statement on the situation described in the octave. Another way of describing an octave versus a sestet is to say that in the octave presents a problem or situation that is resolved in the sestet. The couplet at the end gives a chance to conclude the poem (Padgett 178). The sound and rime scheme of sonnets are written many different ways. Traditionally, sonnets are structured with iambic pentameter and there are a few fixed rime schemes. The Petrarchan Sonnets had a rime scheme of abba, abba, cde, cde. The Shakespearean Sonnets’ quatrain has an alternating rime scheme: abab, cdcd, and efef. The final riming couplet has the rime scheme: gg (Roberts and Jacobs 612). When the sonnet was adopted to English during the early 16th century, Shakespeare wrote his poems with seven rimes instead of five because not as many words rime in English as do in Italian (Padgett 178). In his sonnet titled, “Sonnet” Billy Collins uses the format to talk about what a sonnet is all about. In the first eight lines of the poem it talks about...
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