Everything You Need To Know About A Sonnet

The word sonnet is derived from the Italian word “sonetto,” which means a “little song” or small lyric. In poetry, a sonnet has 14 lines, and is written in iambic pentameter.

But, what is iambic pentameter?

Iambic is used to refer to a rhythm (= pattern of words) used in poetry, in which each short syllable that is not stressed is followed by a long or stressed syllable. Iambic pentameter is a rhythm with each line made of five iambic pairs.

In a sonnet, each line has 10 syllables. It has a specific rhyme scheme, and a volta, or a specific turn.

There are six types of Sonnets:

  1. Italian Sonnet (Rhymes as abba–abba–cdc–dcd)


  1. Shakespearean Sonnet (Rhymes as abab–cdcd–efef–gg)


  1. Spenserian Sonnet (Rhymes as abab–bcbc–cdcd–ee)


  1. Miltonic Sonnet (Rhymes as abab–cdcd–efef–gg and omits the volta)


  1. Terza Rima Sonnet (Rhymes as aba–bcb–cdc–ded…)


  1. Curtal Sonnet (Rhymes as abcabc–dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc with the last line a tail, or half a line)


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