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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Sonnet

Reading the Sonnet, Joseph Lorusso

I am having a love affair with the sonnet since the summer.  The Shakespearian follows the rhyming scheme of ab,ab,cd, cd, ef, ef, gg. The form consists of fourteen lines structured as three quatrains and a couplet. The third quatrain generally introduces an unexpected sharp thematic or imagistic "turn" called a volta. In Shakespeare's sonnets, the couplet usually summarizes the theme of the poem or introduces a fresh new look at the theme. The usual meter is iambic pentameter, which means five iambic feet, i.e., ten-syllable lines.

I admire John Keats' sonnet Bright star! would I were

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—

No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

The word sonnet comes from the Italian word sonetto which means little song, cute!

The Italian or Petrarchan sonnet has the rhyming scheme abba, abba, cde, cde or abba, abba, cd, cd, cd or abba, abba, cd, cc, dc.  The Italian sonnets included two parts. First, the octave (two quatrains), which describe a problem, followed by a sestet (two tercets), which gives the resolution to it. Typically, the ninth line creates a "turn" or volta which signals the move from proposition to resolution.

Here Is A Wound That Never Will Heal, I Know

Here is a wound that never will heal, I know,

Being wrought not of a dearness and a death,

But of a love turned ashes and the breath

Gone out of beauty; never again will grow

The grass on that scarred acre, though I sow

Young seed there yearly and the sky bequeath

Its friendly weathers down, far Underneath

Shall be such bitterness of an old woe.

That April should be shattered by a gust,

That August should be levelled by a rain,

I can endure, and that the lifted dust

Of man should settle to the earth again;

But that a dream can die, will be a thrust

Between my ribs forever of hot pain.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Below is an example of a modern sonnet by e e cummings.

i like my body when it is with your

i like my body when it is with your

body. It is so quite new a thing.

Muscles better and nerves more.

i like your body. i like what it does,

i like its hows. i like to feel the spine

of your body and its bones, and the trembling

-firm-smooth ness and which i will

again and again and again

kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,

i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz

of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes

over parting flesh ... And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

And finally there is Sonnet by The Verve

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