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Shakespearean sonnet

The English or Shakespearean sonnet was first introduced by Henry Howard (1517-1547). Shakespeare made it famous.

The differences between


Petrarchan (Italian) A B B A A B B A C D E C D E A B A B C D C D E F E F G G Shakespearean

Octave (8 lines)

3 quatrains

The TURN

The TURN

Sestet (6 lines)

Rhyming Couplet

The Shakespearean Sonnet


The English or Shakespeare an sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet which rhymes abab cdcd efef gg. Iambic pentamenter

Sonnet 18
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: 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: 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.
A B A B C d C D E F E F G G

Characteristic Shakespeare's sonnets are frequently more earthy and sexual realistic attitudes towards beauty and love

Sonnet 130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damasked, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress when she walks treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.

Shakespeare purposely reverses conventional gender roles as displayed in Petrarchan sonnets to create a more complex and troubling depiction of love.
Sonnet 20 A woman's face with nature's own hand painted, Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion; A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted With shifting change, as is false women's fashion: An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling, Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth; A man in hue all hues in his controlling, Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth. And for a woman wert thou first created; Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting, And by addition me of thee defeated, By adding one thing to my purpose nothing. But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure, Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure. William Shakespeare

The Turn of the Sonnet


A sonnets turn/volta is the Sonnet 18 point in the sonnet Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? where the poet changes Thou art more lovely and more temperate: perspective or alters Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, his/her approach to And summer's lease hath all too short a date: description. This often Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, results in a sonnet And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; following a positioncontrasting position And every fair from fair sometime declines, type of structure, or By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; occasionally a change But thy eternal summer shall not fade- (9th line) of heart in the poet at Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; the end of the verse. Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, Look at this sonnet as When in eternal lines to time thou growest: an example: Notice that the poems turn is word but
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou seest the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed whereon it must expire Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by. This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, (13th line) To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
TURN