What is Sonnet?

Sonnet is a lyric poem consisting of a single stanza of fourteen iambic pentameter lines linked by an intricate rhyme scheme. Just as the ballad gives the poet an opportunity to tell a story briefly in verse, the sonnet is a challenge to the poet to express an idea or mood within the limit of fourteen lines.

In the traditional sonnet, it was the custom to make a distinction between the first eight lines and the last six lines. This was done by indicating a shift in mood or change in the idea in the ninth line of the sonnet.

The sonnets were originally love-poems addressed to an imaginary beloved by a poet. They are in two parts: the first part introduces and develops the argument, and the second part makes a conclusion, proposal or comment. They were originally written by using a particular kind of diction and metaphors for appreciating and courting a lady.

The sonnet was originally a verse form developed by an Italian poet named Patriarch in the fourteenth century. The sixteenth century saw its spread to Spain, France and England. The sonnet was brought to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt and perfected by Henry Howard. Shakespeare later adapted it heavily in its subject and theme, its form and in the devices of word game too. Now we have an English or Shakespearean form, besides the original Italian or Petrarchan form of the sonnet.

Published on 24 Jan. 2014 by Kedar Nath Sharma

Related Topics

English Sonnet: Introduction

Italian Sonnet: Introduction

Iambic Pentameter: Introduction

William Shakespeare: Biography