Technical features of the sonnet form

Categories: LiteraturePoemsPoetry

There are a number of technical features of the sonnet form; first of all, all sonnets are fourteen lines long. There are ten syllables in each line, and most of the time they are in the form of iambic pentameter (limping five rhythm), this means that there are five stressed syllables at the start and then five unstressed syllables, this is repeated 5 times. However, Sir Phillip Sydney’s sonnet “Loving in truth” has twelve syllables in each line, so that sonnet is an exception to this rule.

All of the sonnets rhyme, there are two rhyme schemes, the Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnet forms.

The Shakespearean sonnet form consists of three quatrains and a rhyming couplet at the end of the sonnet. Usually, the rhyming couplet in Shakespearean sonnets summarises the whole poem. The Petrarchan form consists of an octave, and then a sestet. Another thing is that there is a lot of imagery in sonnets. The main types of imagery are similes, metaphors and personification.

An example of a simile is in Percy Shelley’s sonnet, “To Wordsworth”, when he says “thou wert as a lone star. ” Also there are many examples of metaphors, such as in Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes”, Shakespeare says “black wires grow on her head.

” This means that he is comparing black wires to actual hair. There are also a lot of examples of personification in sonnets, for example Wordsworth says “the very houses seem asleep;” he said this in his sonnet which is called “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.

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” There are quite a few common themes in sonnets that poets write about quite often. An example of a theme is love and courtship. There are a lot of sonnets that deal with this subject, such as Shakespeare’s sonnet called “When my love swears that she is made of truth.

” In this sonnet, Shakespeare talks about his love telling lies to him just to make him feel good. He even says “I do believe her, though I know she lies. ” This shows that Shakespeare is telling us all about courtship, another thing is that he refers to her speech as a “false-speaking tongue. ” All of this explains about courtship in Shakespeare’s sonnet, and almost at the end of the sonnet he states that “love’s best habit is seeming trust. ” Edmund Spencer’s sonnet 54, “Of this worlds theatre in which we stay”, is also about love.

He compares love to going to the theatre, for example he says “my love like the spectator ydly sits. ” Another thing is that he contrasts his love with comedies and tragedies in the theatre: But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry She laughs and hardens evermore her heart. This makes it clear that this sonnet is also about love, and going to the theatre is a metaphor for his love. Another sonnet that falls into the category of love and courtship is Sir Philip Sydney’s “Loving in truth and in fain in verse my love to show. ” In this sonnet, he talks about winning the heart of someone he loves by writing a poem.

By writing the poem he intends her to feel pity, and then he states that “pity grace obtain. ” In another words, his love will feel sorry for him and feel sympathy for him. All of this illustrates that love and courtship is a common theme for sonnets. Another common theme is about poetry. The sonnet “Loving in truth and fain in verse my love to show” by Sir Phillip Sidney is more about poetry than love. He talks about writing a poem for his love to read, he says “pleasure might cause her to read” which emphasizes the power of poetry.

He also points out that he needs a poem that will entertain her wits. Even in the last line, he makes reference to poetry by saying ” ‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart and write. ‘ ” What he meant by this is that the best poems are written by listening to your heart. However, it is ironic that Sir Phillip Sidney must have done a lot of research into writing this poem, and not by listening to his heart. Another sonnet about poetry is Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes. ” In this sonnet, Shakespeare criticises the exaggeration of other poems.

He compares his mistress to coral, saying that her eyes are nowhere near as red as coral, which makes fun of the other poems. He states that when compared to perfume, his mistress’ breath wreaks. Right at the end of the sonnet, at the rhyming couplet he makes it clear that he isn’t criticizing his mistress, but that falsely comparing his love and exaggerating isn’t necessary: And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare. Another example of poetry as a theme for a sonnet is in Shakespeare’s sonnet “Not marble nor the gilded monuments.

” In this sonnet he talks about the power of this particular sonnet that he was writing by saying that nothing “shall outlive this powerful rime. ” He mentions that the memory of his love will always be around thanks to the poem he wrote, even after they die, her memory will still be here in the poem, this conveys the power of this particular poem. He says “‘gainst death and all-oblivious enmity shall you pace forth. ” In the end he illustrates that his loves will “live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes. ” Finally, time, death and loss are part of another theme that is common in sonnets.

All these three themes are linked together. First of all, John Donne’s sonnet “Death be not proud” is about death. He personifies death and directs his sonnet to death itself by saying “Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so. ” In this sonnet, John Donne illustrates that there is nothing to fear about death. He states that death is “a slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men. ” Even at the end, he stresses that death shall be no more and that death will die itself, this means that death is only really sending people to heaven and that eternal life shall overcome death.

The next sonnet about this theme is Shakespeare’s “No longer mourn for me when I am dead. ” In this sonnet he leaves a message for his love, not to feel bad when he will die. He says “remember not the hand that writ it, for I love you so” which means that this sonnet is also about time because he talks about his love forgetting about him after an amount of time. Also he thinks of the future, when he will be dead, which also shows that this sonnet is about time and he loss of him. Another sonnet about death and time is John Keats’ “When I have fears that I may cease to be.

” At the start of the sonnet, John Keats shows that he is scared of death because he won’t be able to write poems again, and that he might not live long enough to write a truly great poem. He also is worried that he won’t see his lover again because he says that he “shall never look upon thee more. ” At the end he mentions “to nothingness do sink” which means that he is probably near to death. Overall, he common themes that are used in sonnets are love and courtship, the power of poetry and death.

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Technical features of the sonnet form. (2017, Aug 01). Retrieved from

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