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The sonnet

The sonnet



Introduction to the sonnet and other fixed forms of poetry.

Introduction to the sonnet and other fixed forms of poetry.



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    The sonnet The sonnet Presentation Transcript

    • Poetic Forms & Genres
      The Sonnet & Other Fixed Forms
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Fixed Forms
      A poem in fixed form is controlled as to its length; and it may have other restrictions as well, such as particular rhyme or metrical schemes, or line-lengths, or the repetition of lines.
      Fixed Forms include the limerick and the haiku
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Haiku
      A 17 syllable poem divided into 3 lines, the first consisting of 5 syllables, the second of 7, and the third of 5. Modern example:
      Rain turns creator
      all the dandelions explode
      like supernovae
      (Michael Hartnett)
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • On to the Sonnet
      • The word comes from the Italian word sonetto, meaning a little sound or song,
      • Originated in 12thC Italy based on old folk song stanza
      • First recognisable sonnets associated with ‘Courtly Love’
      • Petrarch 1304-74
      • Sir Thomas Wyatt 1502-42, Henry Howard 1517-47
      • Shakespeare, Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney: Elizabethan Sonnet
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Other Sonnet themes
      Religious sonnets: John Donne, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins
      Political sonnet – Shelley ‘England in 1819’
      Society – Wordsworth ‘Upon Westminster Bridge’
      War- Owen ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’
      Sonnets popular in most eras but NOT the Neoclassical era
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Sonnet Patterns
      a poem of 14 lines in iambic pentameter, usually set out as one stanza, and following a complex rhyme scheme
      ‘the sonnet is the ultimate stanza, an enclosed place of words alive with currents of energy and places to rest.’ (Annie Finch)
      ‘a small square poem...a box for your dreams’. (Don Patterson)
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • The Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet
      • Octave A First Quatrain
      ASecond Quatrain
      TURN (‘Volta’)----------------------------------------
      Sestet C C C Variations for sestet
      D DD
      E C E
      C D C
      D C E
      E D D
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ (Keats)
      Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
      And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
      Round many western islands have I been
      Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
      Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
      That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
      Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
      Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
      Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
      When a new planet swims into his ken;
      Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
      He stared at the Pacific, and all his men
      Looked at each other with a wild surmise –
      Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Unholy Sonnet Mark Jarman
      After the praying, after the hymn-singing,
      After the sermon’s trenchant commentary
      On the world’s ills, which make ours secondary,
      After communion, after the hand wringing,
      And after peace descends upon us, bringing
      Our eyes up to regard the sanctuary
      And how the light swords through it, and how, scary
      In their sheer numbers, motes of dust ride, clinging—
      There is, as doctors say about some pain,
      Discomfort knowing that despite your prayers,
      Your listening and rejoicing, your small part
      In this communal stab at coming clean,
      There is one stubborn remnant of your cares
      Intact. There is still murder in your heart. 
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • The Volta
      Some critics connect the Volta with general tendencies in art, nature and maths e.g.
      Fibonacci sequence and Golden Ratio (8:13)
      Achange of mood or tone about two thirds into a poem, piece of music or painting?
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Petrarchan Variations –e.g. different rhyme schemes for the two quatrains:
      Gwendolyn Brooks’s ‘The Rites for Cousin Vit’:
      Carried her unprotesting out the door
      Kicked back the casket-stand. But it can’t hold her,
      That stuff and satin aiming to enfold her,
      The lid’s contrition nor the bolts before.
      Oh oh. Too much. Too much. Even now, surmise,
      She rises in sunshine. There she goes
      Back to the bars she knew and the repose
      In love-rooms and the things in people’s eyes.
      Too vital and too squeaking. Must emerge.
      Even now, she does the snake-hips with a hiss,
      Slaps the bad wine across her shantung, talks
      Of pregnancy, guitars and bridgework, walks
      In parks or alleys, comes haply on the verge
      Of happiness, haply hysterics. Is.
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • The Shakesperian Sonnet
      • A First Quatrain
      • B
      • A
      • B
      • C Second Quatrain
      • D
      • C
      • D
      • (TURN-------------------?)
      • E Third Quatrain
      • F
      • E
      • F
      • G Concluding Couplet
      • G
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • e.g. Shakespeare Sonnet 66
      Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, -
      As to behold desert a beggar born,
      And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
      And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
      And gilded honour shamefully misplac’d,
      And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
      And right perfection wrongfully disgrac’d,
      And strength by limping sway disabled,
      And art made tongue-tied by authority,
      And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill,
      And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
      And captive good attending captain ill:
      Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
      Save that to die I leave my love alone.
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Shakespeare 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 dimm'd;
      And every fair from fair sometime declines,
      By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
      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.
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Spenserian Sonnet: abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee
      One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
      But came the waves and washed it away:
      Again I wrote it with a second hand,
      But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
      Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
      A mortal thing so to immortalize!
      For I myself shall like to this decay,
      And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
      Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
      To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
      My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
      And in the heavens write your glorious name;
      Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
      Our love shall live, and later life renew. (Spenser, Amoretti 2)
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Meredithian Sonnet: 16 linesAbba, cddc, effe, ghhg
      George Meredith, from Modern Love (1862)
      By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
      That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,
      The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
      Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
      And strangely mute, like little gasping snakes,
      Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
      Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
      With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
      Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
      Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
      Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet
      Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
      By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
      Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
      Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
      Each wishing for the sword that severs all.
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Curtal Sonnet: like Petrarchan but proportion of 6:4 ½ instead of 8:6
       “Pied Beauty,” Gerard Manly Hopkins (1877)
       Glory be to God for dappled things
       For skies of couple colour as a brindled cow;
       For rosemoles all in stipple upon trout that swim
       Fresh firecoal chestnut falls; finches’ wings;
       Landscape plotted and pieced
       Fold, fallow and trim.
       All things counter, original, spare, strange;
       Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
       With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim
       He fathers forth whose beauty is past change;
       Praise him. 
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • ‘The Sonnet-Ballad’Gwendolyn Brooks (1949)
      Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
      They took my lover’s tallness off to war,
      Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
      What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
      He won’t be coming back here any more.
      Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
      When he went walking grandly out that door
      That my sweet love would have to be untrue.
      Would have to be untrue. Would have to court
      Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange
      Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort)
      Can make a hard man hesitate—and change.
      And he will be the one to stammer, “Yes.”
      Oh mother, mother, where is happiness? 
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Other Sonnet Variations
      • Caudate (tail) sonnet:  a sonnet of any type, followed by an extra couplet
      • Chained or linked sonnet:  each line starts with last word of previous line
      • Continuous or reiterating sonnet: uses only one or two rhymes in the entire sonnet
      • Crown of sonnets:  a sequence of sonnets, each of which begins with the last line of the previous sonnet
      • Interwoven sonnet:  includes both medial (middle of line) and end rhyme
      • Miltonic sonnet:  an Italian sonnet with little or no break in sense at the volta, creating a gradual culmination of the idea
      • Retrograde sonnet: reads the same backwards as forwards
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Contemporary variations include:
      Unrhymed metrical sonnets
      Rhymed non-metrical sonnets
      Sonnets of various lengths that keep rhyme and meter
      E.g. American poet Robert Lowell wrote three collections of unrhymed sonnets in the 1960s and 70s:
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • History, Robert Lowell
      History has to live with what was here,
      clutching and close to fumbling all we had—
      it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
      unlike writing, life never finishes.
      Abel was finished; death is not remote,
      a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,
      his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,
      his baby crying all night like a new machine.
      As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,
      the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter’s moon ascends—
      a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,
      my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull’s no-nose—
      O there’s a terrifying innocence in my face
      drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost. 
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Other Fixed Forms: The Villanelle
      Do not go gentle into that good night,
      Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
      Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
      Because their words had forked no lightning they
      Do not go gentle into that good night.
      Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
      Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
      Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
      And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
      Do not go gentle into that good night.
      Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
      Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
      And you, my father, there on the sad height,
      Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
      Do not go gentle into that good night.
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres
    • Fixed and Semi-Fixed Forms
      Fixed Forms include : Haiku, Limerick, Sonnet, Villanelle, Sestina
      Semi-Fixed Forms (no prescribed length) include: Pantoum, Terza Rima
      Further investigation in theNorton Book of Poetic Forms edited by Strand & Boland.
      Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres