Sonnets in Songs


Sonnets in Songs


 From Latin sonus – sound; Italian - sonetto - song

 14 line verse form

 Conventional rhyme scheme

 Usually examines and juxtaposes two contrasting ideas either to resolve or reveal tensions between them

 They are a technical and accomplished form of poetry with roots in the Renaissance

 Typically they have been written about love


 Iambic pentameter

 Quatrain (groups of 4 lines) - abab / cdcd / efef

 Couplet (final two lines) - gg

 Each quatrain develops specific idea

 All quatrains linked

 Placement of volta is flexible

 Couplet is usually a decisive closing statement


 Iambic pentameter (unstressed – stressed syllable, repeated 5 times in line)

 Octave (first 8 lines) - abbaabba

 Sestet (remaining 6 lines) can include any of the following:

 cdcdcd

 cddcdc

 cdecde

 cdeced

 cdcedc

 poem divided into two sections offering two different rhyme groups

 octave forms ‘proposition’ or problem; sestet forms ‘resolution’

 volta (turn) at line 9 – introduction of 2 nd idea / change of subject matter

/ problem to resolution

What implication does this have for our study?

 It is a complex and elevated form of poetry – how does this link with the subject matter of the sonnets in Songs?

 A fruitful area of exploration is to look at any links between rhyming words in the sonnets

 Also, consider where the volta comes and what this introduces

 Think about the effect of the couplet (Shakespearean)

 Be aware of any disruption to the metre

 Any break of pattern is significant and worthy of comment

Further details on sonnet form: