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Understanding Poetry: Shakespearean Sonnet

Understanding Poetry: Shakespearean Sonnet.

Italian for sonetto or little song, a sonnet has many forms. A traditional sonnet is a fourteen line poem written in iambic pentameter with a specific rhyme scheme, but the Shakespearean Sonnet is written with the rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg using three quatrains and a couplet. The Shakespearean sonnet also has a "volta" which is the dramatic turn or shift in thought normally occurring in line nine, but can also be placed at the end of line 12 as well. The couplet at the end of the poem gives final clarity of the previous stanzas, and acts as the conclusion for the basis of the poem. The subject matter of a sonnet is based on love.

Stanza One (Quatrain = 4 Lines)
Line One: a
Line Two: b
Line Three: a
Line Four: b

Stanza Two (Quatrain = 4 Lines)
Line Five: c
Line Six: d
Line Seven: c
Line Eight: d

Stanza Three (Quatrain = 4 Lines)
Line Nine: e (This line will have the volta or shifting of dramatic change)
Line Ten: f
Line Eleven: e
Line Twelve: f

Stanza Four (Couplet = 2 Lines)
Line Thirteen: g
Line Fourteen: g

Example:

"Sonnet LXXIII"

That time of year thou mayst in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self that seals up all in rest.

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed by that which it was nourished by.

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

~Shakespeare




-brr

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