• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The History of the Sonnet

Extracts from this document...


The History of the Sonnet The word "sonnet" is derived from the Italian word "sonneto", meaning little sound. It is a fourteen line poem, written in Iambic Pentameter, meaning short beat, long beat rhythm. The first word or syllable is unstressed, while the second is stressed, as in "delight". A line in a sonnet has five of these, meaning there are ten syllables to a line. Different poets change the structure slightly or dramatically, not because they are incapable of writing a sonnet like that, but because they want to call attention to the change or use it differently. This difference in structures is called the pattern of rhyme. The Italian, or Petrarchan sonnet was perfected by Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch). It consists of two parts, and octave (eight lines) and a sestet (six lines). The octave addresses one theme or thought, turning on the Volta or shift, and the poem ends dramatically in the last six lines. The pattern of rhyme is generally abba abba cde cde. An example of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, by Christina Rossetti: O Earth, lie heavenly upon her eyes; Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth; Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth With its harsh laughter, nor for sounds of sighs. ...read more.


Tony Harrison Tony Harrison was born in Leeds, in 1937. Harrison has a sense of utility and thinks 'strong, powerful emotions are hard to measure without some form of doing it." He illustrates his emotions through poetry, and often writes about his family. A lot of his inspiration comes from his earlier life, often based on his family and childhood. The following are one of Harrison's most famous poems, in the form of two sonnets. Them & [uz] I Ay ay! . . . stutterer Demosthenes Gob full of pebbles outshouting seas - 4 words only of mi'art aches and . . . 'Mine's broken, you barbarian, T.W.!' He was nicely spoken. 'Can't have our glories heritage done to death!' I played the Drunken Porter in Macbeth. 'Poetry's the speech of kings. You're one of those Shakespeare gives the comic bits to: prose! All poetry (even Cockney Keats?) you see 's been dubbed by [?s] into RP, Received Pronunciation, please believe [?s] Your speech is in the hands of the Receivers.' 'We say [?s] not [us], T.W.!' That shut my trap. I doffed my flat a's (as in 'flat cap'), My mouth all stuffed with glottals, great Lumps to hawk up and spit out . . . E-nun-ci-ate! II So right, yer buggers, then! ...read more.


In the first sonnet, the teacher is talking about how poetry was the speech of kings. It seems as though Harrison felt as if poetry was a field closed to him due to his accent, however, this is quite ironic because years from then, he has become an excellent poet. The sonnet is full of puns and wordplay - "chewed up litterchewer", is a visual and auditory verbal gag, but also records a non-standard common pronunciation of "literature". In "ending sentences with by, with, from", Harrison perhaps goes against the rules stated by the Oxford dictionary, forbidding the placing of the preposition at the end of a clause or sentence. This goes back to Tony Harrison using colloquial language to make his writing more personal, as he may have believed that the way in which he spoke was correct, and the way in which other spoke was not. There is much focus on the last line of the second sonnet, as it is obvious that Harrison has let go of his past and is concentrating on the present and future. I think that Harrison's sonnets are remarkable in how he is able to capture the reader's attention with his own style and language. The subjects of his sonnets are different to those I normally read, and I think that the way he managed to put his emotions into words was simply amazing. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sonnets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sonnets essays

  1. Compare how the conventions of the sonnet

    The speaker sees similarities between how the night closes in on the day with how his old age is closing in on himself. The third quatrain talks of a fire slowly perishing revealing that the speaker is not talking of his physical death but the death of his youth: In

  2. Consider the sonnet as a verse form. With examples, compare Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets ...

    In the second quatrain he moves on to talk about a different aspect of the beauty (the young man's complexion). He continues to do the same in the third quatrain, by changing the aspect of beauty. Then in the last two lines he sums up what he has said about

  1. Explore aspects of the sonnet tradition through reference to a range of material you ...

    At a first glance the casual eye may be mislead into thinking that this line is about doom, but at a closer look it can be understood that Shakespeare was implying that love is eternal. In addition to this he uses enjambment to carry his point across to the next line.

  2. A sonnet is recognised as a poem that consists of fourteen lines, split up ...

    This sonnet is imaginative and not very realistic as many extraordinary claims are made, "when in eternal lines to times thou grow'st. The second sonnet (CXXX) compares Shakespeare's mistress to many things. This sonnet seams more down to earth and realistic as you can visualise the comparisons he makes easily.

  1. Are there any ways in which you consider that experiences conveyed by the sonnets, ...

    These last lines are hyperbole, exaggerated for effect. The sonnet has a constant factual tone, and uses iambic pentameter, which is used in all Shakespearean sonnets. The themes in the pre-20th century compared to the post 20th century sonnet have not changed dramatically; love is still seen to over-power what people say.

  2. The Sonnet

    Shakespeare also personifies love and time relating it to us thus making it even more personal. Shakespeare's evaluation is very powerful, saying that if this is not true then he is not a writer and man has never loved a woman.

  1. An examination of the sonnet from Petrarch to Browning.

    Basically, both people are lying in some way. In quatrain 3, Shakespeare carries on the argument with two rhetorical questions, which tell us how insecure and uncertain the persona is about his lover being faithful and honest, and also about himself wanting to believe that he is still youthful.

  2. The sonnet: A historical analysis of the greatest form of poetry.

    It could have been a phrase that inspired him to write the sonnet. The structure of this type of poem is a petrarchan form, which is strange because he was English and is talking about his homeland but the sonnet form was Italian so it is ironic that he has used a different structure for his poem.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work