• The Italian poet Petrarch , popularized 14-line lyric
poems called “sonettos” or “little songs,” which could
be read or sung, accompanied by a lute.
• Many of his sonnets were written to “Laura,” an idealized
woman who remains indifferent to the poet.
• =theme of unrequited love.
• Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard,
the Earl of Surrey, translated Petrarch’s
poetry and introduced it to England.
• Sonnets became an immensely popular
form of poetry in England. In sonnet
sequences or cycles, the sonnets fit
loosely together to tell a story.
The Italian or Petrachan Sonnet
• A 14-line lyric poem
• Written in iambic pentameter.
• Strict structure:
• 8-line octave—presents situation or problem
• 6-line sestet—presents change in situation or
• The “volta” or “turn,” a change in focus, usually
occurs after the eighth line.
The English or Shakespearean Sonnet
• 14-line lyric poem
• Written in iambic pentameter
• Three 4-line stanzas (quatrains)—present
related ideas, or the situation (or question and
• The turn, a shift or change in focus, usually
occurs in the third quatrain (or sometimes in the
ending couplet in Shakespeare’s case).
• One couplet (two rhyming lines) sums up the
poet’s conclusion or message.
• Rhyme scheme=ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
• Sonnets often included conceits, comparisons
between two seemingly dissimilar things.
• Conceits were often the basis for the whole
• Examples: hunting conceit, icy woman conceit,
eternizing conceit, love as a battle, etc.
• Romeo uses Petrarchan conceits (also
oxymorons) when describing his love for
Rosaline as "bright smoke, cold fire, sick
Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
lease= allotted time date=period of time
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
sometime= at some time
untrimmed=deprived of beauty
But thy eternal summer shall not fade.
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
fair= beauty
ow’st=owns, possesses
“Gli occhi di ch'io parlai si caldamente” by Francis Petrarch
The eyes that drew from me such fervent praise,
The arms and hands and feet and countenance
Which made me a stranger in my own romance
And set me apart from the well-trodden ways;
The gleaming golden curly hair, the rays
Flashing from a smiling angel's glance
Which moved the world in paradisal dance,
Are grains of dust, insensibilities.
And I live on, but in grief and self-contempt,
Left here without the light I loved so much,
In a great tempest and with shrouds unkempt.
No more love songs, then, I have done with such;
My old skill now runs thin at each attempt,
And tears are heard within the harp I touch.
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