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The sonnet form of poetry enjoyed two great eras of productivity, first in Italy and then in England. Both forms use iambic pentameter, which gives a pattern of ten syllable lines with an accent on every second syllable.

The Italian Sonnet

The Italian sonnet is sometimes called the Petrarchan sonnet after Francesco Petrarch. It is fourteen lines consisting of an octet and a sestet. The octet may have the rhyming scheme abbaabba or abbacddc. Rarely it appears as abababab. The rhyming scheme of the sestet is more flexible, but common variations are cdcdcd and cdecde.

In this form it is usual for the poet to create two differing moods in the octet and sestet. One common method is for the octet to state a conundrum and the sestet to give the resolution.

The English Sonnet

The Petrarchan Sonnet was brought into England by Sir Thomas Wyatt, but the relative difficulty of finding rhyming words in English meant that the sonnet soon evolved into a more amenable form. The standard English sonnet, or Shakesperean sonnet, consists of three quatrains and a rhyming couplet. The rhyming scheme is abab cdcd efef gg. The most notable variant is the Spenserian sonnet which is rhymed abab bcbc cdcd ee.

The English poets were generally free with how they structured the mood of their piece, but the rhyming couplet at the end made for many a pithy conclusion. Famous Englishmen to utilise the sonnet include Samuel Daniel, Sir Phillip Sidney, Edmund Spenser and of course William Shakespeare.

Ooh.. I Gotta page it up (On call when I fuck the shit of all students on Harvard!) (Nigga! Yeah! Shit! Ass, asshole!)


The two following examples are both from sixteenth century England. The first is slightly unusual being a quatrain followed by a couplet repeated three times. It was written by Thomas Watson and appeared in his collection of poetry Hekatompathia in 1581. The second is by Shakespeare himself and is in the standard Shakesperean form. These poems have been chosen for their content as well as to give an example of structure, so it is worth noting that Watson's sonnet is a collection of high praise from various sources. The convention of extravagant praise had been established by Petrarch.

Thomas Watson, sonnet VII

Harke you that list to heare what sainte I serve:
Her yellow locks exceede the beaten goulde;
Her sparkeling eyes in heav'n a place deserve;
Her forehead high and faire of comely moulde;
 Her wordes are music all of silver sounde;
 Her wit so sharpe as like can scarce be found;
Each eyebrow hanges like Iris in the skies;
Her Eagle's nose is straight of stately frame;
On either cheeke a Rose and Lily lies;
Her breath is sweete perfume, or hollie flame;
 Her lips more red than any corall stone;
 Her necke more white than aged swans yt mone;
Her brest transparent is, like cristall rocke;
Her fingers long, fit for Apollo's lute;
Her slipper such as Momus dare not mocke;
Her virtues all so great as make me mute:
 What other partes she hath I neede not say,
 Whose face alone is cause of my decaye.

<math>Insert formula here</math>Latex=====Adolphy, sonnet IVII=====

I were you, if I were me, and only I can do that for you 'Cause all that is you for me I will happy no longer if I touch keys I'm not missing you even you're kiss as a lips sweet Yellow papers, I write my neighbour's hoodflouck Fuckin' all bitches and shit that you've been through, Even though, tough enough all rhymes in pimes Limes and dayapits in falses in ass, asshole Nigga, I don't like it as I sex myself on my sperm with wife's egg! (Oh! This is so erotic, tica, erotica, rotic, go erotic!) Yeah! Man, I'm in modern, let me wear my long, long brown, two-collared Leather coat! Where I sex with the girls!