John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically, he just loves to write.
Behind the Scenes (Why I Wrote These Sonnets)
Firstly, let me thank annart (Ann Carr) for her recent photo prompt challenge (see her article: "BREAKTHROUGH: Short Story exploring Loss, Injury & a Second Chance; A Challenge")
The mysteriously blurred photo that Ann provided has been haunting me ever since. I keep getting visions of a forest setting and someone semi-conscious and not seeing clearly or maybe dreaming. I was considering writing a short story to fit the photo but I had to finish a hub I was already working on first, "The Case of the Million Dollar Collar Continues."
Well, to cut a long story short, along comes billybuc (Bill Holland), reads my hub, and leaves a comment as follows: "I'm sitting here this Tuesday morning wondering if there is a genre or type of writing that you cannot do. You are so damned talented, John. How about a sonnet? Can you do a sonnet? There's your next challenge, although I'm fairly certain you can do it."
Now, for anyone that knows me it's obvious by now that I can never pass up a challenge or a dare. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone, to answer both Ann's challenge and Bill's dare/challenge in one hub.
I have never written a sonnet before and having never studied classic or formal poetry I had little idea of sonnets other than that William Shakespeare was famous for them. Well, it was time to do some research to find out all the rules involved. This hub is the result. I do warn you though .. these two sonnets are probably not like any sonnets you have ever read before. Did Edgar Allan Poe write any sonnets? I don't know, but if he did they'd probably be similar to these.
'Sonnet 18' by Shakepeare ( the Most Famous Sonnet of All)
What is a Sonnet?
The word "sonnet" comes from Italian word for “little song.” This is a fitting title — as a sonnet possesses many musical qualities.
Sonnets usually explore universal elements of human life to which many people can relate. Themes such as love, war, mortality, change, and hardship are some common topics featured in the sonnet. Sometimes the poet is trying to answer a larger question about life or provide commentary on a social issue.
In general, sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, are fourteen lines long, possess a set rhyme scheme, and have a recognizable turn or “volta.
There are two main types of sonnets: English and Italian. English sonnets are known as Shakespearean sonnets and Italian sonnets are also referred to as Petrarchan sonnets. The poets, Shakespeare and Petrarch, were the most famous sonnet writers of their time within their respective poetic forms. Though both types of sonnets are comprised of fourteen lines, the structuring of the lines and rhyme schemes are different.
Incorporating a Volta
An English sonnet is comprised of three quatrains and ends with a couplet. The resolution or volta does not come until the final rhymed couplet making a powerful ending statement. The Italian sonnet is composed of an octave and then a sestet. Generally, the first eight lines introduce a problem and the last six lines provide resolution.
Volta is the Italian word for “turn.” A turn represents various changes in the sonnet. It might refer to a change in the theme, the sound, the emphasis or the message of the poem. The volta indicate that the sonnet is coming to an end.
In the English sonnet, the volta is found in the third quatrain while in the Italian sonnet the volta is often found in the ninth line.
What is Iambic Pentameter?
Sonnets are written in a rhythm called iambic pentameter. An iamb is represented by two syllables and is an example of a metrical foot in a poem. The first syllable of an iamb is unstressed, and the second syllable is stressed or emphasized. When spoken aloud, the syllables sound like a fall and rise (duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH). The word pentameter refers the act of repeating the iamb five times. Iambs don't need to be two-syllable words. The unstressed, stressed pattern can stretch out across separate words or even repeat within a single word provided that the stresses still work. Pentameter means that there are five metrical feet per line (10 total syllables).
English/ Shakespearean Sonnet
The rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet always follows this pattern:
- ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
- Although written in iambic pentameter, the rhythm can get plodding and predictable if you use it exclusively. By varying the stress pattern slightly at key moments, you can break up the pattern and make the poem more aurally interesting for the reader, and also use the variation to draw attention to key phrases in your poem.
- A Shakespearean sonnet is composed of three quatrains and a one couplet.
- In a Shakespearean sonnet, the three quatrains are the “ABAB CDCD EFEF” portion of the rhyme schem
- The couplet is the “GG” closing.
- You can separate these stanzas with blank lines, or leave them all together in an unbroken poem.
Is This a Face in the Bushes?
What Do My Eyes Perceive?(an English Sonnet)
Perchance I slept not either sound nor deep
My bed beneath a lonely canvas tent.
The face of demons haunt my troubled sleep
To steal my soul, the fiends, they seem hell bent.
What do my eyes perceive this darkest night?
Deceived maybe by one as dim as I.
Is't folly that I doubt my sense of sight?
Are dreams at fault, or should in fear, I die?
But fears unfounded I should surely cease,
Believe not all my timid eyes may see.
Who knows what unknown evil dreams release,
Stranger than fiction fact may often be.
As welcome sunlight dawns upon the day
The fear in me soon starts to fade away.