What is a Sonnet Poem Definition

Read this article to know what is Sonnet in poetry.

What is Sonnet in Poetry

A sonnet is a 14-line poem that is written in iambic pentameter. The term “Iambic” refers to the type of foot or unit of rhythm which in this case is composed of a weaker syllable followed by a stressed syllable. “Pentameter” refers to the number of feet in a line, which in case of the sonnet is five. Therefore each line in iambic pentameter consists of five 2-syllabled units of rhythm-essentially “Da dum da dum da dum da dum da dum” in most cases  ‘da’ being the weaker syllable & ‘dum’ being the stressed syllable.

Types of Sonnet

The three traditional forms of sonnets are-

  • Italian Sonnets

Italian sonnets are commonly known as Petrarchan sonnets, after the name of 14th-century Italian poet Petrarca who was also known as Petrarch. A Petrarchan sonnet consists of an 8-line stanza called an ‘octave’, followed by a 6-line stanza called as ‘sestet’. This type of sonnet is constructed with a change of thought between the octave & the sestet. E.g. the octave might tell of a conflict & sestet telling of the solution. The rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet is always abbaabba. The rhyme scheme of sestet may vary but the final two lines do not rhyme.

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  • Shakespearean Sonnet

English sonnets are usually called Shakespearean sonnets, by famous poet & playwright, William Shakespeare. He wrote about 154 sonnets. This type of sonnet has three 4-lined stanzas called ‘quatrains’ followed by a 2-line stanza called a ‘couplet’. The rhyming scheme is abab cdcd efef gg. Each stanza introduces a separate idea but is linked to other stanzas. The turn often comes between the final quatrain & the couplet.

  • Spenserian Sonnet

Named after 16th century English poet Spenser. Spenserian sonnets are variations of Shakespearean sonnets that contain three quatrains followed by a couplet. Spenserian sonnets, however, in their rhyming scheme, interconnect the sounds of consecutive quatrains: abab bcbc cdcd ee. Example

20th December 2016

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