• Monday, 26 February 2024


Sonnets are practically synonymous with Shakespeare, but there are actually two different kinds of this famous poetic form. Having originated in 13th century Italy, the sonnet usually deals with love and has two common forms: the Petrarchan (named for its famous practitioner, the poet Petrarch) and the Shakespearean (also known as the English sonnet). Each type contains 14 lines but comes with its own set of rules.

Petrarchan Sonnet

Characteristics and Rules:

  • 2 stanzas
  • Presents an argument, observation, or question in the first 8 lines
  • Turn (or “volta”) between 8th and 9th lines
  • Second stanza answers the question or issue posed in the first
  • Rhyme Scheme: ABBA, ABBA, CDECDE

Shakespearean Sonnet

  • 3 quatrains (4 lines each) and a couplet (2 lines)
  • Couplet usually forms a conclusion
  • Rhyme scheme: ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG


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