Contents

Brief History of the Sonnet Form
Conventional Sonnet Forms
Famous Poets Forms
National Sonnets
Introduction to Contraversial Sonnet Forms (Quatorzain)




Brief History of the Sonnet Form



Although the Italian sonnet is also labelled Petrarchan, as the English sonnet also bears the name of Shakespearian, nothing could be more erroneous. It was in fact created by Giacomo da Lentini, (1188-1240) head of thirteen other notaries who formed the Sicilian School of Court Poetry (14 total) and later the Neo-Sicilian School (1235-1294) when he moved to Tuscany. There he started writing in his own language which was Italian, and wrote almost 300 sonnets. Other members of this school included Dante Alighieri (1235-1321) and Guido Cavalcanti (1250-1300).

The most famous user of this form was Francesco Petrarcha (1304-1374) whose sonnets became popular throughout Europe. Petrarcha actually revived a lagging form and gave it even more life.

At this point it should be emphasised that the form had been deliberately created with 14 lines, whether it was because of the number of the school or a spiritual and mathematical formula of 8 and 6, is still being argued, but the fact is that it was a ratio of 8 and 6, a statement and volta or turning point, making a 14 line poem.

The Spanish form follows the Italian form and is merely an Italian Octave with a Sicilian Sestet. The French also liked the Italian octave, but decided they would make the volta more explosive and made it a couplet with a following a quatrain and a similar pattern to the previously used quatrain, thus making it a definite change rather than casual one or ignoring a change completely, whilst still maintaining the 8/6 ratio.

During his ambassadorial travels through the courts of France, Spain and Italy, Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542) was without doubt, privy to the sonnets that abounded there and later it is alleged that his sonnet "Whoso list to hunt" was about having to give up his love for Anne Boleyn and was based around Petrarch's Rhyme 190. He is credited with introducing the English sonnet form and translating some of Petrarch's poetry. He was also an admirer of Chaucer innovative languages, but it took 15 years after his death before any of his work was published. Looking at some of his work, a true Petrarchan can be seen originally, however with his later work a deviation becomes apparent where he still follows the Italian octave, but the volta uses a quatrain using the same rhyme scheme and a couplet. It can be hypothesised that the next step was using three quatrains and a couplet, and called the English Sonnet, being English they would ignore the reasons for 8/6.

Up to this point no meter was stated but it was natural the English of the time to use a form we now know as Iambic Pentameter, that had been created by Chaucer.

Geoffrey Chaucer - Linguistic. Chaucer wrote in continental accentual-syllabic metre, a style which had developed since around the twelfth century as an alternative to the alliterative Anglo-Saxon metre. (Court Poetry). Chaucer is known for metrical innovation, (writing in English) inventing the Rime Royal, and he was one of the first English poets to use the five-stress line, the iambic pentameter, in his work, with only a few anonymous short works using it before him. His most famous use was in the Canterbury Tales.

Edmund Spenser's sonnet is based on the Petrarchan sonnet and still follows the 8/6 pattern, however whilst following the conclusion idea it does so by use of a quatrain and a couplet which had finally been adopted by English poets.

The form still evolving, William Shakespeare, like many of his contemporaries, wrote poetry and drama in iambic pentameter. There is some debate over whether works such as Shakespeare's were originally performed with the rhythm prominent, or whether it was embedded in the patterns of normal speech as is common today. In either case, when read aloud, such verse naturally follows a beat.

Quick Guide to Conventional Forms

(for more information click on the form)


Italian Sonnet
Petrarchan
No set structure originally, then
followed the forms below, which
are Iambic Pentameter
Italian Sonnet
Basic Form
Italian Octave.. a. b. b. a. . a. b. b. a
Italian Sestet.. c. d. e. c. d. e.
Pre-Iambic Pentameter
Italian Sonnet
Sicilian
Sicilian Octave.. a. b. a. b. . a. b. a. b
Sicilian Sestet.. c. d. c. d. c. d.
Pre-Iambic Pentameter
Italian Sonnet
Sonetto Rispetto
Ottava Rima Octave.. a. b. a. b. a. b. c. c.
Italian Sestet.. d. e. f. d. e. f.
Sicilian Sestet.. d. e. d. e. d. e.
Pre-Iambic Pentameter
French Sonnet Italian Octave, Sestet begins.. c. c.
then.. d. c. c. d. .or. d. e. e. d. . or. d. e. d. e.
Ten syllable meter
Spanish Sonnet Italian Octave.. a. b. b. a. . a. b. b. a
Rima Alterata.. c. d. c. d. c. d.
Ten syllable meter
Rime Royal

.. a. b. a. b. b. c. c. . . d. e. d. e. e. f. f.

No Meter Specified
Wyatt Sonnet .. a. b. b. a. . a. c. c. a. . d. e. e. d. f. f.

Any meter
Spenserian Sonnet .. a. b. a. b. . b. c. b. c. . c. d. c. d. . e. e.

Pre-Iambic Pentameter
English Sonnet
(Shakespearian)
.. a. b. a. b. . c. d. c. d. . e. f. e. f. . g .g.

Iambic Pentameter

Complex Variations

Additions of Lines,
Stanza or Sonnets
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Famous Poets Forms

(for more information click on the form)


Burns Sonnet .. a. b. a. b. . c. d. d. c. . . . e. f. f. e.. . g. g

Definately nae Iambic ye ken
Byron's Sonnet .. a.b. b. a. . a. c. c. a. . . . d. e. d. . e. d. e

No Meter Specified
Keats Sonnet .. a. b. c. . a. b. d. . c. a. b. . c. d. e. . d. e.

No Meter Specified
Pushkin Sonnet .. a. b. a. b. . . c. c. d. d. . . e. f. f. e. . . g. g.

No Meter Specified
Shelley's Sonnet .. a. b. a. b. a. c. d. c. . . e. d. e. f. e. f..

No Meter Specified
Tennyson Sonnet .. a1. b. a2. b. c. d. d. c. e. f. e. a2. a1. f. e.

No Meter Specified
Wordsworth Sonnet .. a. b. b. a. . a. c. c. a. . d. e. d. e. . f. f.

No Meter Specified
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National Sonnets

(for more information click on the form)


Arabian Sonnet

.. a. a. a. a. . . b. b. b. b. . . c. c. c. . . d. d. d.

No Meter Specified
Australian Sonnet

.. a. b. b. a. . . c. d. d. c. . . e. f. f. e. . . g. g.

No Meter Specified
Dutch Sonnet

.. a. b. c. c. b. a. . .d . d. . . e. x. e. f. x. f.

No Meter Specified
German Sonnet

.. a. b. b. a. . .b. c. c. .b . . . c. d. d. . . c. d. d.

No Meter Specified
Irish Sonnet

.. a. b. a. b. . . b. c. b. c. . . c. d. c. d. . . d. d.

No Meter Specified
Korean Sonnet

.. a. a. a. a. a. a. a....b. b. b. b. b. b. b.

No Meter Specified
Malaysian Sonnet

.. a. a. b. a. . . b. b. c. b. . . c. c. d. c. . . d. d.

No Meter Specified
New Zealand Sonnet

.. a. b. a. b. . . b. b. c. c. . . c. d. c. d. . . e. e.

No Meter Specified
Trinidad Sonnet

.. A. b. a. . c. b. c. . D. e. d. . . f. e. f. . . A. D.

No Meter Specified
Vietnamese Sonnet
(Luc Bat)

.. a. (a. x. b). b. (b. x. c). c. (c. x. d). d. .
(d. x. e).e. (e. x. f). f. (f. x. g). g. (g. x. a)
Alternate 6. 8. Sound units
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Controversial Sonnet Forms (Quatorzain)

(for more information click on the form)


Alfred Dorn Sonnet

.. a. b. c. a. b. c. . . d. d. . . a. e. a. e. a. e.

No Meter Specified

Beymorlin Sonnet English or Italian basic
Second sylable of each line have an internal rhyme scheme Ten syllables or Iambic Pentameter
Blank Verse No rhyme pattern

Iambic Pentameter
Blues Sonnet

A. A. a. . . B. B. b. . . C. C. c. . . D. D. d. . e. e.
Iambic Pentameter
Or..Do yo thang
Brisbane Sonnet

.. a. b. c. a. . . b. c. d. e. . . f. d. e. f. . . g. g.
Iambic Pentameter
or Similar
Busta Sonetto

.. a. b. x. b. a. . . c. d. x. d. c. . .e. f. f. e.
Iambic Pentameter
or Similar
Cornish Sonnet

.. a. b. a. c. b. C. . . d. e. d. f. e. F. . . C. F.
Or.. A. b. a. c. b. c. . . D. e. d. f. e. f. . . A. D.
Or.. A. b. a. c. b. c. . . d. e. d. f. e. F. . . A. F
Curtal Sonnet

.. a. b. c. a. b. c. . . d. c. b. d. c.
Or. . a. b. c. a. b. c. . . d. b. c. d. c.
last line spondee, or at least a tail shorter
Cyhydedd Fer Sonnet

.. a. a. b. b. . . c. c. d. d. . . e. e. f. f. . . g. g

8 syllable lines

Divino Sonetto .. a. a. b. b. . . d. c. c. d. . . e. e. f. . . e. g. g

No Meter Specified

Echo Sonnet

.. A. b. b. A1. . . a. c. c. A1. . . a. d. d. A1. . . A.A1

Iambic Pentameter

Envelope Sonnet

.. a. b. c. c. b. a. . . d. d. . . e. f. g. g. f. e.

No Meter Specified

Free Form No rhyme pattern

No meter
Ghazal

.. A. A. . . b. A. . . b. A. . . b. A. . . b. A. . . b. A

No Meter Specified

Ivorian

.. A nine line start: a. a. b. c. b. d. e. d. e.
Then a Quitain any variation of a. b. c. d. e.
No Meter Specified
John Tee

.. A. B. c. d. e. f. A. B. g. h. i. j. A. B.

No Meter Specified
Kyrielle

.. A. b. a. B. . . c. b. c. B. . . d. b. d. B. . . A. B.
Or.,A.a.b.B...c.c.b.B...d.d.b.B...A.B.
No Meter Specified
Mathlish

.. a. a. . b. b. b. . . c. c. . . d. d. d. . . .
Quatrains e. f. e. f. . or. e. f. f. e. . or. e. e. f. f.
10 syllables or Iambic Pentameter or similar.
Pantoum

.. A. b1. a. b2. . b1. c1. b2. c2. . c1. a1. c2. A. . a1. A
No Meter Specified
Rondel Prime

.. B. a. b. . . a. b. A. B. . . a. b. b. a. A. B
Or.. A. B. a. b. . . a. b. A. B. . . a. b. a. b. A. B
No Meter Specified
Rosarian

1.. a. a. b. c. c. . . d. d. b. e. e. . . f. g. g. f
2.. a. a. b. c. c. . . d. d. b. e. e. . . f. g. f. g
3.. a. a. b. c. c. . . d. d. b. e. e. . . b. b. f. f
Rubaiyat

.. a. a. b. a. . . b. b. c. b. . . c. c. a. c. . . a. a.

No Meter Specified

Sapphic Ode

3 x 4 lines, 3 Iambic Tetrameter, last line Iambic Dimeter. Couplet Iambic Tetrameter
a. b. a. b. . .c. d. c. d. . .e. f. e. f. . .g. g.
Saraband

3. 4. 3. 4
any variation of tercet with any quatrain
No Meter Specified
Sestina or Quastina

.. a. b. c. d... d. c. a. b... b. a. d. c... c. b.. d. a.

No Meter Specified

Soneto Cinco, Cuatro y Cinco

.. a. a. b. b. x... c. c. d. d... e. e. f. f. x. or
.. x. a. a. b. d... c. c. d. d... x. e. e. f. f.
No Meter Specified
Swannet

A1. b. b. A2. . . c. d. d. c. . . e. f. f. e. . . A1. A2.

No Meter Specified

Terza Rima Sonnet

... a. b. a. . . b. c. b. . . c. d. c. . . d. e. d. . . e. e.

No Meter Specified

Triolet Sonnet

.. A. B. a. A. a. b. A. B. a. A. a. b. A. B.

No Meter Specified

Villanelle Sonnet

A1. b. A2. a. b. A1. a. b. A2. a. b. A1. A1. A2.

No Meter Specified

Wreathed or
Un-wreathed Sonnet

(Un-)Wreath Octave and Sestet or
3x (Un-)Wreath Quatrains and a Couplet
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