Poetry, Sonnet

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Summary

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Details

Among the most common forms of poetry through the ages is the sonnet, which by the 13th century was a poem of fourteen lines following a set rhyme scheme and logical structure. By the 14th century, the form further crystallized under the pen of Petrarch, whose sonnets were later translated in the 16th century by Sir Thomas Wyatt, who is credited with introducing the sonnet form into English literature. A sonnet's first four lines typically introduce the topic, the second elaborates and the third posits a problem - the couplet usually, but not always, includes a twist, or an afterthought. A sonnet usually follows an a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-gg rhyme pattern. The sonnet's conventions have changed over its history, and so there are several different sonnet forms. Traditionally, in sonnets English poets use iambic pentameter, the Spenserian and Shakespearean sonnets being especially notable. In the Romance languages, the hendecasyllable and Alexandrine are the most widely used meters, though the Petrarchan sonnet has been used in Italy since the 14th century.

Sonnets are particularly associated with love poetry, and often use a poetic diction heavily based on vivid imagery, but the twists and turns associated with the move from octave to sestet and to final couplet make them a useful and dynamic form for many subjects. Shakespeare's sonnets are among the most famous in English poetry, with 20 being included in the Oxford Book of English Verse.

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