What Types Of Sonnets Are There?


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Florent Lefortier Profile
A sonnet is a type of poem that originated in Italy in the 12th century.

Sonnets are usually fourteen lines long, written in iambic pentameter, and follow a strict rhyming pattern. There are several different types of sonnet:

The Italian (or Petrarchan) Sonnet This is the earliest type of sonnet, and its invention is credited to Giacomo da Lentini.

The Petrarchan sonnet is divided into two different parts – the first eight lines (or octave) has an a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a rhyming pattern, and the second part (the remaining six lines, or sestet) can have two or three different rhyming patterns, arranged in several different ways.

The Spenserian Sonnet This sonnet was invented by Edmund Spenser, and grew from the form he used in his poem The Faerie Queen. The rhyming pattern for the Spenserian sonnet is  a-b-a-b-b-c-b-c-c-d-c-d-e-e. The Shakespearian (or English) Sonnet As the name suggests, this type of sonnet was made popular by Shakespeare. It’s quite possibly the most flexible of all sonnets, and consists of three quatrains (groups of four lines) and finishes with a couplet (two lines).

The rhyming scheme for the Shakespearian sonnet is a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g.

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