A lot of the following information about sonnets can be found on

Introduction: sonetto, means “a little sound or song.” The sonnet is a popular classical form of poetry.  Traditionally, the sonnet is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter. You are going to take what you learned about Haikus and take it to the next level! While we are looking to Shakespeare to help us craft our sonnets, sonnets were actually born in Sicily, Italy.   There are two basic types of sonnets, the Italian (Petrarchan) and the English (Shakespearean).  We are going to focus on the Shakespearean.

Shakespearean Sonnet: 
The second major type of sonnet, the Shakespearean, or English sonnet, follows a different set of rules. Here, three quatrains and a couplet follow this rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg.   In order to be proficient in the art of the sonnet, there are a few concepts we must master:

A quatrain is four lines of verse with this rhyme scheme: A-B-A-B, meaning that the first and third, and second and fourth lines rhyme.

A couplet is two lines of verse that rhyme. To borrow from the example above, the lines would have an “A-A” rhyme scheme.

Iambic Pentameter
Now we’re getting into some pretty heady stuff. Once you know this, you can go out and impress your friends! (If you have more than one.) Let’s start with “iambic”. That refers to two syllables, one stressed, one not stressed. “Ba dum” would be an example of an iamb. The stress is on the “dum.” Pentameter simply means a line of verse with five groups of two syllables (for a total of ten). (The “penta” part means “five,” as in the “Pentagon,” which is a five-sided building housing the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.) So “iambic pentameter” would mean a line of verse consisting of five sets of syllable groups, all stressed and unstressed. Here is an example:

Ba dum, ba dum, ba dum, ba dum, ba dum.

Notice the ten syllables total. Notice the stresses (on the “dum”).

Feet: Remember what you learned about syllables to write Haikus?? Well that information is going to be benefit you here.  Feet is the amount of unstressed/stressed syllables in a line.  Feet are marked with slashes

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Do you notice anything about the excerpt above? How many syllables are in each line? 

Analyze the following poem from Denise Rodgers (click on the link to go to her website for funny sonnets) 

The sonnet form is old and full of dust
And yet I want to learn to write one well.
To learn new forms and grow is quite a must,
But I will learn it quickly, I can tell.

And so I sit, today, with pen in hand,
Composing three new quatrains with a rhyme.
The rhythm flows like wind at my command.
The A-B-A-B form consumes my time.

But I’m not done until there’s fourteen lines.
One ending couplet, after three quatrains.
I’ve tried to write this new form several times.
The effort’s huge; I have to rack my brain.

But I persist, my fourteen lines now done.
I wrote my poem; my sonnet work is won.

What do you notice about the poem? Can you find the elements mentioned above (Stressed/ unstressed syllables, 10 syllables in a line? the proper rhyme scheme?) 

Shakespearean Sonnet Check list:

1.  Does your sonnet have 14 lines?
2. Does your sonnet follow the rhyme pattern?
3. Does each line in your sonnet have 10 syllables

5 responses

  1. How many syllables is there for every line

    1. There are 10 syllables in each line

  2. Oh never mind

  3. Do we leave out the two G’s or do we put down what we did on the paper?

  4. i have no deia how to do this homework

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