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Origins And Explanations Of The Sonnet

1336 words - 6 pages

Origins and Explanations of The Sonnet

The sonnet originates in Italy in the 12th and 13th century. The term
comes from the Italian for "little song" and the best known Italian
sonneteers were Dante and Francesco Petrarca. Petrarch proved most
influential on the sonnet's successive history, leaving his
predominant theme of secular love as well as the form itself to
subsequent poets. In 14th century Italy the sonnet was clearly
established in as a major form of love poetry.

The sonnet is a lyric poem comprised of 14 rhyming lines of equal
length utilising a variety of different rhyme schemes, but usually in
five-foot iambic pentameters in English. ...view middle of the document...

The
early eighteenth century saw a decline in the sonnet's popularity, but
there were the odd successes and attempts by poets who did not use the
sonnet often. Although largely neglected in the 18th century, the
sonnet was revived in the 19th by Wordsworth, Keats and Baudelaire,
and is still widely used. Irregular variations on the sonnet form have
included the 12-line sonnet sometimes used by Elizabethan poem.

The Petrarchan sonnet is distinguished by having a two part division;
the sonnet's rhyme scheme divides the poem's 14 lines into two parts,
an octave and a sestet. The rhyme scheme for the octave is typically:
abba abba. While there are a few possibilities for the sestet,
including: cdecde, cdccdc, or cdedce.

The octave presents a problem or situation which is then resolved or
commented on in the sestet. The transition from octave to sestet
usually coincides with a 'turn' in the argument or mood of the poem.
This divides the thought into two opposing or complementary phases of
the same idea

The octave and sestet division is not always kept; the rhyme-scheme is
often varied, but within limits, no Italian sonnet has more than five
rhymes. Iambic pentameter is essentially the meter.

Although the English or Shakespearean sonnet grew from the Petrarch
sonnet it varies in form. Instead of the octave and sestet divisions,
this sonnet characteristically symbolizes four divisions of three
quatrains (each with a rhyme-scheme of its own) and a final rhymed
couplet. The typical rhyme-scheme for the English sonnet is: abab cdcd
efef gg.

The couplet at the end is usually a commentary on the foregoing, a
short close. Though not invented by Shakespeare, the form was
perfected by Shakespeare. The reason for the greater number of rhymes
in the Shakespearean sonnet is due to the greater difficulty finding
rhymes in English.

In Shakespeare the 'turn' comes with the final couplet which often
undercuts the thought created in the rest of the poem.

I am going to examine some of the metaphors used in the sonnet with
the first line,

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" I like this sonnet because
it is full of metaphors and it describes the situation in such a way
that you can actually picture the scene. One particular metaphor that
the poet uses which I really like is:-

"Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines."

I like this metaphor because it describes the sun as the "eye of
heaven". This sentence also says that the sun shines too hot down on
the earth which works well with the fact that the sun can also be the
eye of heaven in a religious point of view The poet uses another
metaphor which works well with the sonnet. The metaphor is:-

"Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade."

I think this metaphor has two contributions to the sonnet. One is...

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