Sample English Sonnet Worksheet
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English Sonnet
By Brenda B. Covert

1     Medieval lawyer and poet Giacomo Da Lentini of Italy created the first sonnet around the year 1230. We call his style of poetry the Italian sonnet. The word "sonnet" means "little song." Sonnets are structured poems of fourteen lines. The English sonnets that we will study are arranged as three quatrains (stanzas of four lines) followed by a couplet (a two-lined stanza). The traditional rhyme scheme used for English sonnets is abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Each line must be written in iambic pentameter-that is, a line of ten syllables that follows the unstressed/stressed rhythm pattern.
2     Beyond the stanzaic structure, the rhyme scheme, and the iambic pentameter, a sonnet must present a conflict and resolve it in the couplet. Each quatrain can present a different point of view about the problem. The couplet at the end is for the poet's final thoughts on the subject. The conclusion can be clever or poignant. It may be a surprise twist!
3     From the beginning, the theme of most sonnets was love - romantic, passionate, or unrequited love. William Shakespeare, whose plays are still popular, wrote many sonnets as well. We'll take a close look at his twenty-seventh sonnet. Look at the end rhymes and the structure of the poem. Notice that the first word in each line is capitalized. Then study the conflict and the final thoughts.
4     XXVII (27)
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
6     The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
7     But then begins a journey in my head,
8     To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
He's worked hard all day and can't
9     wait to go to sleep, but his thoughts

Paragraphs 10 to 76:
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