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Question from a Newbie! :)

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

OK. First of all, let me say that I am not an expert on poetry. I will simply share some things I have learned along the way, both from formal education and from writing my own poetry.


Let's start with the sonnet.  The sonnet is one of the oldest and best recognized poetic forms. It is a 14-line poem with variations in its rhyme scheme. It originated in Italy and then was brought to England in the 16th century. The word "sonnet" comes from the Italian word "sonetto", which means "a little song."


The sonnet usually focuses on a single emotion or theme. In its two closing lines, it presents a twist on that emotion or theme.

There are three main types of sonnet: the Petrarchan sonnet (also called the Italian sonnet), the Spencerian sonnet, and the Shakespearean sonnet.


The Petrarchan sonnet takes its name from the Italian poet Francesco Petrarca (commonly known as Petrarch) who perfected this type of sonnet. The Petrarchan sonnet divides the 14 lines into a group of 8 lines called an octet and a group of 6 lines called a sestet. The rhyme scheme for the first 8 lines is ABBAABBA. The rhyme scheme for the last six lines is either CDCDCE or CDECDE. An example of a Petrarchan sonnet would be Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous poem, "How Do I Love Thee?"

The second type of sonnet is the Spencerian sonnet. This type of sonnet was developed by the poet Edmund Spenser. It is divided into three stanzas of 4 lines each followed by a couplet (a two-line stanza). The rhyme scheme for the Spenserian sonnet is ABAB BCBC CDCD EE.


The third type of sonnet is called the Shakespearean sonnet. This sonnet is written in iambic pentameter, which means 10 syllables to each line. The rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean sonnet is a bit challenging: ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG. 


I hope you will be inspired to write a sonnet--or more than one--of your own! :)


Here is a Shakespearean sonnet I wrote years ago and that has been published several times:


                                                   Be Still

                                        by Mary Ann Diorio


                  Be still, My child, and know that I am God,

                  The everlasting Counselor and King.

                  Receive the comfort of My staff and rod,

                  And all your cares and burdens to Me bring.

                  Lift up your eyes unto the hills above                         

                  And find the peace and help I long to give.

                  Be ever mindful of My gracious love,

                  And know that by My power you shall live.

                  For in the day you sought Me, I was found,

                  And in the day you called, I heard your prayer.

                  And when at night you wept, I heard the sound

                  And wiped away the tears of your despair.

                  Be still, My child, and know that I am He

                  Who holds you in His heart eternally.


© 1992 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD.  All rights reserved.  This poem is protected by federal and international copyright law and may not be published or reproduced in any way, including in church bulletins, without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. Copies may be made for personal use.



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