Sonnet Examples – Understanding Petrarchan and Shakespearean Sonnets

  • September 23, 2022
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Sonnet is a lyric poem of single stanza which consists of fourteen lines. There are two types of rhymes in sonnets. They are Italian or Petrarchan sonnets and English sonnets or Shakespearean sonnets. This article will help you understand the formation of the rhythmic pattern and the development of sonnets and the rise of sonnet sequences.

1. Petrarchan Sonnet:

Italian or Petrarchan sonnets are divided into two main parts; an octave and sestet. Octave consists of eight lines rhyming abbaabba whereas sestet involves six lines rhyming either cdecde or cdccdc. Moreover, the rhyme pattern involves the expression or the statement of problem or situation in the octave and a resolution in the sestet.

It was Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was the first to imitate this form of sonnet in early sixteenth century.

2. Shakespearean Sonnets or English Sonnets:

The Earl of Surrey was the chief motive behind the introduction and development of this English sonnet. It consists of three quatrains and a concluding couplet rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. It often presents repetition of statement in each of the three quatrains and the final couplet enforces an epigrammatic turn at the end.

John Donne covered a variety of religious themes in his “Holy Sonnets” in the seventeenth century. Milton then fashioned sonnets with more serious themes. In the 19th century, Wordsworth, Keats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, D. G. Rossetti wrote sonnets.

Inspired by Petrarch, a number of Elizabethan authors arranged sonnets into grouping which was often called sonnet sequence. Shakespeare arranged his sonnets into a sequence. Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella (1580) is such a famous sonnet sequence you should read for experiencing the real spirit of poetry.


Source by Rakesh Ramubhai Patel

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