I love to read and write sonnets. Some think that the sonnet’s structure is too confining; I think it is liberating. It is like a puzzle: If put together in such a way, the effect is breathtaking.
There are three main types of sonnets: Shakespearean (English), Italian, and Spencerian. All of them are comprised of 14 lines and use descriptive language and imagery to illuminate contrasting ideas; basically a fancy metaphor. Modern authors often look past the meter, or the rhythm part of a sonnet. Sonnets were originally written in iambic pentameter- or 5 pairs of unstressed/stressed syllables. Example:
Most writers (including myself at times) stick to merely ten syllables per line. Modern language makes it extremely difficult to be true to form.
The main difference between the three types of sonnets is their end rhyme scheme. (from http://www.sonnets.org/basicforms.htm)
The Spencerian sonnet is one of my favorite; I love the Faerie Queen.
a b a b b c b c c d c d e e
The English (Shakespereian) is similar in that it also has a couplet at the end, but doesn’t repeat the rhyme scheme past the stanza or quartet. I think this is the easiest one to do.
a b a b
c d c d
e f e f
The Italian sonnet on the other hand, has an octave and sestet and should never have a couplet at the end.
a b b a a b b a
Sestet could be one of the following:
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
I am sure that there are many other forms. I have even created my own.
Anyway, this is an example of an Elizabethan sonnet I wrote :
Lyke as/ a hus/bandman/ growing/ weary/
plowing/ his field/ day af/ter day/ forlorn/;
when har/vest tyme/ arrives/ dark and/ dreary/,
he finds/ not gold/en grain/ but vy/l thorn/.
So I/ whose love/ doth fall/ on bry/rie earth/
my seed/ doth sow/eth in/ shallow/ soyl/
swallowed/ by the/ endless/ pursuit/ of myrth/,
and re/ceiveth/ naught to/ show for/ toyl/.
Yet, hope/ I well/ the this/tle will/ soon die/
til then/ I tend/ to the/ thick thorn/y field/
dreaming/ of a/ fruitful/ time not/ yet nigh/
when the/ barren/ land more/ than thorns/ will yield/
Forsooth/, my heart/ now my/ love has/ ysnare/-
Jove sees/ the dan/ger, but/ ne’er sayes/, “Beware.”/
Again, it did not stick to iambs. I have attempted many revisions and could never get the right words to conform. Here is another more modern sonnet:
My masterpiece has yet to be written
In detail its heart fails to be formed.
But still my spirit is ever smitten
with the perfect gentleman of a poem.
Be wary oh my dear love-stricken soul!
Today, your love might come a-calling.
Forget not oh my heart, be not full of woe.
Smile when he approaches, or it will be your failing.
Yes, he will come; he comes soon; he comes when?
Oh, I long for him to be at my side!
From dusk to dawn; from midnight to noon,
I desire my masterpiece to be my pride.
Yet the words come not, yet the words come not.
Ever I wait, he will not be forgot.
I guess my challenge for myself now is to write a true to form sonnet, complete with the proper meter and rhyme scheme.