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Tales of Murder and Suspense (Sonnets Like You've Never Seen Before)

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)

Credit: "Sonnet 18," © 2008 Jinx!, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

Credit: "Sonnet 18," © 2008 Jinx!, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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:

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  2. 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?

Blurred Points in the Dark

Blurred Points in the Dark

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.


Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet

The iambic pentameter is the same as the English/Shakespearean sonnet.

But while the Shakespearean sonnet always has the exact same rhyme scheme, the Petrarchan sonnet does not have a single pattern.

  • The first eight lines (the octave) always follow a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, but the closing six lines (the sestet) have some variation. The following five patterns are the most common in the tradition of the Petrarchan sonnet.

That Scream! (an Italian Sonnet)

That scream! It fills my pounding heart with dread.

My body starts to tremble at the sound

As heavy feet drag over boggy ground,

My gun proceeds me as I move ahead.

The victim I expect is surely dead,

But nothing's sure until a body's found.

Within the forest, naked, cold, and bound,

The outcome sadly just the way I said.

At least all pain and suffering's no more,

Her fear and terror now things of the past.

The killer may for now elude my law,

But such evasion for long may not last.

Her jilted lover sobs behind the door,

Gun barrel in mouth makes a muffled blast.


An intellectual's weapon is writing, but sometimes people react as if it were a firearm. A writer can do a lot to change the situation, but as far as I know, no dictatorship has fallen because of a sonnet.

— Mario Benedetti

At least all pain bad suffering’s no more.

At least all pain bad suffering’s no more.

© 2015 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 30, 2020:

Hey Laurinzoscott. I am glad you found this informative and moving. Thanks for reading and for the great comment.

Laurinzoscott from Kanab, Utah on March 30, 2020:

Wow John, im keeping this article as a reference...very informative and moving, and I agree with Bill Holland.. Glad you found intetest in sonnets.. Graet one!

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 16, 2018:

Oh wow! Great, looks good (you're welcome). Thank you. It's a helpful page for the beginner, a good resource.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 15, 2018:

Thank you for reading these sonnets Verlie. I much preferred the first one too. I also took your advice and moved or deleted images so they don't break the sonnets up. Thanks for the tip.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 15, 2018:

John, What Do My Eyes Perceive? is a wonderful sonnet. You had me at 'perchance'. The Scream, not so much, but that is just me. You've clearly understood the Sonnet form(s). I would say you are a natural, so carry on! I appreciate the work that went into making this page. Kudos to you. I personally would rather read the Sonnets in one piece, without breaking with images.

(although the images are amazing). Thanks so much for the link. I was looking for Sonnets in your Profile list of articles, and couldn't find.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 14, 2018:

Thank you for reading Rinita, I preferred the first one too. I will check yours out for sure. Yes, it is great when poets share their work.

Rinita Sen on October 13, 2018:

Oh, and since we are sharing sonnets, here's the only other one I wrote (my first, too). English version again. Let me know what you think when you get a chance. How charming the world becomes, when poets share!

Rinita Sen on October 13, 2018:

Loved these sonnets. The first one a little bit more. Nothing quite like classic poetry. I wasn't aware of the Italian version because like you, I never "studied" poetry. So thank you for sharing the knowledge. Maybe I will try my hands on the Italian version some day.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 10, 2015:

Thank you for reading my sonnets Writer4You2012. Always great to see a new name among the comments on my hubs.

Writer4You2012 on September 10, 2015:

Love it! That says it all!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on May 26, 2015:

Jodah, you never cease to amaze me. Your writing talent is boundless, your creativity astounding. You gave very good explanations on what a sonnet is and how to write one. I love sonnets - love to read them, love to write them.

I enjoyed reading your sonnets and congratulate you on conquering yet another genre in your multifaceted talent. Well done, Jodah - well done.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 18, 2015:

Thank you Deb, this was a learning experience for me too. I knew nothing about sonnets before.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 18, 2015:

Very nice work! I nearly had to open my leather bound works to see where they ended, and you began.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 06, 2015:

Hey Bearien, thanks for the generous comment. I too have a lot of respect for sonnets now after writing these. I appreciate the vote up.

Besarien from South Florida on April 06, 2015:

Hi Jodah! These sonnets are awesome. I really respect the discipline it takes to squeeze your mind to fit into traditional forms. Great hub, voted up.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2015:

Thanks so much Ann. I have had the same problem with some comments I have made recently..for some reason they haven't saved or shown up on the hub. I thought it strange when you said you were going to read the hub there was no comment. Sorry you had to repeat it, but I'm glad you did. Glad you found it worthy of meeting your challenge. Have a great weekend.

Ann Carr from SW England on April 04, 2015:

Profuse apologies, John. I did read your hub a few days ago and left a lengthy reply; however, either it didn't register or I omitted to press 'post'.

This is an amazing response; we have a brilliant tutorial on sonnets, most of which I had no clue about, PLUS we have two brilliant sonnets to boot.

Your sonnets are wonderful; the first gives us a chilling glimpse from night to morn (through the trees or through the dreams?) and the second is scary and sad at the same time. Both are in the spirit of a sonnet, use the old-fashioned words/style of a sonnet and both are so well-crafted I was spell-bound.

Shall I compare thee to Shakespeare? Nay, I'll plump for Hansen any day!

Up and all but funny & shared.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2015:

Thank you Lawrence, writing these sonnets was quite challenging, but a learning experience too

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on April 03, 2015:

Two really good pieces. Not sure I could write them. Well done John

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 03, 2015:

Thank you drbj, always good to have you visit my hub and leave a comment. Glad I exceeded your expectations too :)

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 03, 2015:

You more than exceeded, John, any preconceived expectations I may have had. Well done and voted way Up!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 02, 2015:

Thanks Flourish, I thought that last line may get some comments. I appreciate you reading and your comment.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 02, 2015:

I especially liked the Italian sonnet. The last line was a real corker. Well done.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 02, 2015:

Haha Aneegma, I do have a few secret identities. It's hard finding a good phone booth these day though :) Wow! this must be a first, one of my hubs not making you cry. Glad I could educate you on sonnets and that you enjoyed my attempts at writing them. I think I'm just making up for all the lost time that I didn't write when I was younger, besides "age is just a number".Thank you for the vote up.

Jasmine S from Pennsylvania on April 02, 2015:

Good heavens John I'm beginning to suspect that you're secretly Superman pretending to be a sweet grandpa! Absolutely loved this and to be honest I had no idea about sonnets. Thank you for educating me on this. (I didn't cry this time! smiles all the way!) Excellent hub my friend. Keep 'em coming! Voted up.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 02, 2015:

Thank you Faith. What a great comment. I have thought about researching sonnets for awhile and trying to write one. Bill's dare gave me the impetuous to actually do it. I am glad you enjoyed these and the images. Hopefully you will give sonnet writing a go as well. I would be interested in hearing about your trip to Georgia to visit your mother. Sounds intriguing. I hope you do write a hub about it. I am resigned to never being awarded a HOTD. I haven't even got an EC for two years so there's no way I'm holding my breath. If any of my hubs were going to get it my Srambled Egg recipe hub would have with all my own pics..poetry doesn't stand much chance unfortunately..although this is also instructional.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 02, 2015:

Thanks for reading Lori, glad you enjoyed these poems. You should write some sonnets. I'm sure you'd do well.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thanks so much Suzette, glad the subject matter appealed to you too.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Yes this is certainly one of my darker hubs MsDora..I seem to switch back and forth between light and dark in my writing. Thank you for the kind words. I needed to learn about sonnets so Bill's challenge was a way of forcing me to study them. Thought I may as well share what I learned.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thanks Kevin, if you aren't really into poetry you may find it difficult to understand a sonnet. I had to learn about them so I could write this..couldn't pass up Bill's challenge.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thanks for reading Dana. I know these sonnets are a long way from my children's stories. I appreciate the kind comment.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 01, 2015:

Oh, wow, John, your sonnets blew me away! You knocked these out of the park and what an exciting start to National Poetry Month.

Your research paid off in a big way. I will have to go back and study all of your great research on sonnets. I like that they do sound like a song.

Your imagery and photos are stunning. That first sonnet actually reminds me of a time in my real life when I traveled to Georgia to visit my mom and spent the night at her home, and I went into a deep sleep and then ... I realized I was not dreaming! I may write about that some day. It was a time of great spiritual warfare and I believe I ticked off the dark side ones.

This should be HOTD, truly.

Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

Please write more of these!

Blessings always

Lori Colbo from United States on April 01, 2015:

I remember studying sonnets in a poetry class years ago. Your poems were very good. Great hub. Voted up.

suzettenaples on April 01, 2015:

Wow! What excellent sonnet writing. I enjoyed both of them and I did like the subject matter. Definitely different. Bravo!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 01, 2015:

I'm impressed Jodah. You learn and teach the sonnet at the same time. Your sonnets are excellent with subject a little dark, but lines bright with expertise. Well done!

The Examiner-1 on April 01, 2015:

I read that and watched the video but I do not know what a sonnet is. All that I can say is that you seem to have done it John. I voted it up, shared , and Tweeted it.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Jackie, thanks for your praise and encouragement. I love all the challenges people set on here. It really makes me extend myself and continually try new types of writing. Glad this was educational too.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on April 01, 2015:

Well done John! I say your rose to the challenge and excelled!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thank you Larry, I try to put my own unique spin on most things. Never planned on doing it to sonnets though. Glad it worked.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thank you for reading Venkat, glad you enjoyed this hub and learnt more about sonnets.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 01, 2015:

Great job John and like Bill I have no doubts about your talents! You can write anything you want to and always do an exceptional job. I wasn't clear on sonnets either so interesting to learn that too. Thanks for the lesson and entertainment!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on April 01, 2015:

You definitely put your own spin on this age old genre.

Great read.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on April 01, 2015:

Very awesome presentation, John! Enjoyed the sonnets very much. Thanks for sharing them and for the great knowledge about sonnets.

Voted up and awesome.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thanks Audrey, I'm collecting all the "wow" comments and gonna save them in a jar haha. Seriously thanks for your kind comment. Sometimes old forms of poetry just need to be resurrected in a way they are more relevant to today's readers. I hope I did that for these sonnets.

Audrey Howitt from California on April 01, 2015:

Wow John--particularly the first one for me--I do like it when I see poets take an old form and make it feel new again--

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Hey Eric, good to see you. I didn't know they were so complex either until I decided to right a couple. Glad you like my style.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 01, 2015:

Well I'll be. Never knew there was so much to a sonnet. Yours were excellent and a style I really like.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Thank you Nikki, always good to see you and glad you enjoyed.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Hi Bill, I hope I met your challenge well enough :) You don't know how much a "blown away" comment means coming from you. Gad I was actually able to teach the teacher something. Thanks for challenging me to do this.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Hey Gypsy, glad you enjoyed these sonnets and learnt a little. I can't ask for more than an "awesome" vote and share. Thanks.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

I like the "wow" comment Shauna :) Thanks for reading and enjoying my sonnets. Have a great day.

Beautiful Garbage from Louisiana on April 01, 2015:

Well done Jodah! and very informative.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 01, 2015:

You can't see me, obviously, but if you could, you would see me bowing in your direction. I am blown away. I am in awe. When I grow up I want to be just like you, John! I have no more words. You did did it well...and for dummies like me, you even explained it to us. Thank you my friend. Great job!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 01, 2015:

Voted up and awesome. Enjoyed the lesson in sonnets and your sonnets as well. Fascinating read and passing this on.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 01, 2015:

Wow, this is awesome, John! Your explanations were clear (even if they do include unfamiliar terms). You did a fabulous job of writing sonnets. I especially like the first one.

You da man! :-)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Jamie good to see you. I am honored that you like these sonnets as they are the first I have ever written and I know you are an accomplished exponent. Thanks for the kind comment. I look forward to reading the poems you have been working on for poetry month. I doubt I will be able to write a poem each day but I'm gad I got this one out there to start the month.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2015:

Hi Frank, my first reader. I thought the subject matter/theme of these sonnets might appeal to you. Thanks for the great comment. Glad you enjoyed.

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on April 01, 2015:

What a great hub, what a great first of April treat. Thank you for these well crafted sonnets! Jamie

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on April 01, 2015:

The lesson.. the behind the scenes.. nice touch.. the sonnets were to scream for..a delicately nuance on the nature of murder and suspense sonnets and photos.. Some chilly.. the gun to the mouth the cartoon boy/ghost screaming.. it just all fits..strangely beautiful my friend

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