What is meant by a sonnet?
A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyming pattern. The form originated in Italy in the 13th century, and although its invention is credited to Giacomo Da Lentini, it was Francesco Petrarta that popularised the form. Sonnets weren't written in English until the 16th century, but these English or Shakespearian sonnets are perhaps more well-known.
Characteristics of the English Sonnet
- 14 lines
- Iambic pentameter: A type of metre that consists of an unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed syllable. For example, 'the CAT is IN the TREE.'
- 10 syllables per line
- A strict rhyming scheme of ABAB/CDCD/EFEF/GG.
Famous Sonnet Writers
- William Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets, his most famous being Sonnet 18 (also known as 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?')
- Italian poet Dante wrote many sonnets, although these were of the traditional Italian type that was popular at the time.
- Francesco Petrarta, after whom the Petrarchan sonnet is named. Petrarchan sonnets are usually written about unattainable or unrequited love.