Topics: Sonnet, Poetry, Poetic form Pages: 5 (1337 words) Published: October 2, 2013


1. What is a sonnet? Where do we find its origins? What is its form? What are the differences between an Italian sonnet and an Elizabethan or Shakespearean sonnet? A sonnet is a poetic form constituted by fourteen hendecasyllabic lines. The term sonnet derives from the Italian word sonnetto, meaning “little song”. The fourteen lines are organized in four quatrains (stanzas) following a strict rhyme scheme and a specific structure. Each sonnet has two quatrains of four lines and two quatrains of three lines. Generally, the first quatrain presents the theme of the sonnet and the rest develops it, but this structure is not strict. The sonnet was originated in Sicilia, passing to the center of Italy. Its invention is attributed to Giacomo da Lentini, but in Italy, it was cultivated by Guido Guinizelli, Guido Cavalcanti and Cino da Pistoia, the poets of the “dolce stil nuovo”. Also, the Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarca’s (known as Petrarch) sonnets was really important in the 14th century. An Italian sonnet is typically composed of two sections by two different groups of rhyming sounds: the octave, the first eight lines which describe a “problem” or a “question”; and the sestet, the last 6 lines which propose a “resolution”.

The octave rhymes
a b b a a b b a

The sestet rhymes
c d c d c d
c d d c d c
c d e c d e
c d e c e d
c d c e d c
In contrast with the Italian sonnet, the Elizabethan or Shakespearean sonnet is written with a simple pattern, consisting of three quatrains of alternating rhyme and a couplet. The third quatrain generally introduces an unexpected sharp thematic or imagistic "turn", the volta. a b a b

c d c d
e f e f
g g
2. What is concordia discors? How do you think this idea will help to understand Spenser´s Sonnet 30? A concordia discors is the idea that multiple conflicts between the four elements in nature (air, earth, fire and water) paradoxically create a global harmony in the world, it is also called a “discordant harmony”. This idea can help to understand Spenser’s Sonnet 30 “Fire and Ice” because the author expresses his sentiments and emotions for a woman by means of the different elements of the nature. The sonnet’s speaker compares himself to fire, but his beloved is compared to ice. These elements represent the rejection the woman shows to the speaker in the same way that “fire” is in contrast to “ice”. But in the moment the two elements are mixed, there arises a harmony between them. The idea of concordia discors is reflected throughout the entire poem but the established harmony between fire and ice is expressed mainly in the couplet:

“Such is the power of love in gentle mind
that it can alter all the course of kind.”

3. Prepare an analysis of Spenser´s sonnet No 70. Who is “love´s mighty king? Who are the speakers in this sonnet? What is carpe diem? How can this concept help us to understand this sonnet? In the context on the sonnet, “love’s mighty king” could be Cupid, because it is the mean representation of love around the world. This character is a symbol of the love’s power and in the sonnet it is characterized like “mighty” because love refers to a strong attraction, state or feeling that can trigger a lot of different actions. A speaker in Spenser’s sonnet No. 70 can be spring because it is the “herald” in the text and a herald has the function of announcing news or something that happens. But also, we find that a man in love is addressing the poem to his beloved and he uses spring like his messenger. Carpe diem is a Latin expression that popularly is translated to “seize the day”, namely, to enjoy the moment in the present without being worried about tomorrow. This expression is useful to understand the Spenser’s sonnet N° 70 because the author wants to demonstrate to his beloved that she needs...
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