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Sonnets. One of Shakespeares most famous sonnets is his Sonnet No. 18 Shall I compare thee to a summers day?

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Introduction

Sonnets The sonnet was originally from Italy in the 16th century. The name "sonnet" comes from the Italian "sonneto" meaning little song. English travellers heard it and liked it so brought it to England. Since then, it has become one of the most widely used forms of poetry. The sonnet consists of 14 lines that use an iambic pentameter. There are two main types of sonnet, the Petrachan and the Shakespearean. The Petrarchan sonnet is in the original form that came out of Italy. It consists of an Octave and a sestet. That use a rhyme scheme abba abba then cdecde, though the sestet maybe cdcdcd. Usually an idea is developed in the Octave and then rounded off in the Sestet. The other form is the Shakespearean sonnet, developed by William Shakespeare. It has three quatrains and then ends in a rhyming couplet with a rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg. Often an idea is looked at in three different ways in the quatrains and then concluded in the rhyming couplet at the end. The most challenging thing for writers of sonnets is the strict format they must conform to. I have shown the format and it is a very tight and concise frame to write a poem in. ...read more.

Middle

The poem compares a whole year and the seasons to life. And Shakespeare is saying that he is late autumn. The imagery used to compare the seasons and other objects to live is very effective, such as "bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang". This is a great piece of imagery and writing, especially in the context. Obviously this line means that the birds have migrated away and no longer sing but there is also a secondary meaning to this. Shakespeare was writing soon after Henry VIII had disbanded the monasteries and perhaps Shakespeare here is making reference to the monasteries where the choirs were no more. I think this also sums up the way Shakespeare feels, saying that all his energy and life is spent and used up. In the second quatrain Shakespeare refers to himself as the twilight of a day. Just after the sun has set light can just make it over the horizon, which is just before night falls and day ends. He feels that he is in a similar stage in his life, on the brink of the edge. This is coupled with another fantastic image of referring to night as "Death's second self". Here he is saying that night is as close to death as we can experience and just as death seals up a life, night seals up the day. ...read more.

Conclusion

The rhyme scheme is A-B-A-B-A-C-D-C-E-D-E-F-E-F. Also many of the rhymes are eye rhymes. This would indicate that Shelly is not too concerned with the Rhyme scheme of the sonnet unlike Shakespeare's sonnets where they conform perfectly to the scheme under which they are written. As in the two previous sonnets the imagery is superb. "The wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command" is very expressive The poem talks about the once empire of Ozymandias and how it used to be large and cover the desert and all that is left in the sand "Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies" in the middle of the desert. This is the irony of the poem, the whole sonnet is built around this irony and the message that comes from it. Also the sonnet is started with "Antique land" which links in with Ozymandias' empire saying how long ago it was. But still despite the years the statement remains. Which furthers the irony In the sonnet the boast made by the ancient king Ozymandias is a strong contrast to the boast made in Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 18. Ozymandias claims that his empire will span the length of time and people will always bow down to it and its wonders, but in reality all that is left is a decaying statue. Shakespeare claims that his sonnet will be read in times to come, and four hundred years later it still is read. ...read more.

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