Tamara Cady, Ashley Goodridge, and
• Developed in 14th Century Italy by Francesco Petrarch.
• Italian sonnet known as “Petrarchan Sonnet”
• Arrived to England in 16th century when English poets read
Petrarch’s sonnets while in Italy.
• Many first English sonnets were Petrarch’s sonnets translated
into English, seen as flattery rather than plagiarism at the time.
• Sir Thomas Wyatt: popular poet of sonnets in 16 C. Eng.
• Mid-16th C.: became popular in courts to flatter nobility.
• Original sonnet form altered by several poets and renamed after
them, such as Spenserian or Shakespearean (Shakespearean
also sometimes referred to as “English” sonnet).
What were sonnets used
• Unrequited Love: Often the author was a
male attempting to persuade an unavailable
or unattainable woman to love him.
• Tormenting Love: Sonnets were not always
upbeat and happy. Some sonnets are written
about how horrible it could be.
• Sonnets have also been known to use puns
and double meanings within the lines.
• Always used Iambic Pentameter which
consisted of 10 Syllables per line with a
specific stressed/unstressed pattern.
• Sonnets were typically numbered and
grouped by poet.
• Always contained 14 lines.
• Petrarchan Sonnet:
– Grouped into an 8-line unit (an octave) and
a 6-line unit (a sestet) although they were
sometimes divided even further.
– Rhyme Scheme: ABBA ABBA CDE CDE
• Petrarchan Sonnet by John Milton:
“When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."
• Shakespearean Sonnet:
– Grouped into three 4-line units (Quatrains)
and one 2-line unit (a couplet) at the end.
– Rhyme Scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
– Usually the main idea was formulated and
argued in the first 12 lines, and the last two
were a kind of conclusion.
• Shakespearean Sonnet by Shakespeare
“So is it not with me as with that muse,
Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven it self for ornament doth use,
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,
Making a couplement of proud compare
With sun and moon, with earth and sea's rich gems:
With April's first-born flowers and all things rare,
That heaven's air in this huge rondure hems.
O let me true in love but truly write,
And then believe me, my love is as fair,
As any mother's child, though not so bright
As those gold candles fixed in heaven's air:
Let them say more that like of hearsay well,
I will not praise that purpose not to sell.
• Spenserian Sonnet:
– used the same grouping as
– Rhyme Scheme: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE
• Spenserian Sonnet by Edmund Spenser
“One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide and made my pains his prey.
Vain man (said she) that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalise;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quod I); let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame;
My verse your virtues rare shall eternise,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where, when as Death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
• Metaphors and Similes
– compares one item to something
completely unlike the former.
• Ex: “Our lips are like a ruby rose.”
– Gives human qualities to items that are not
• Ex: “The sun smiled down on me.”
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18
• Poetry EServer
• World Class Poetry
• Ohio State
• You tube.