The basic concept of a sonnet is simple.
1. It takes two related and yet at the same time contrasting things.
2. These things can be:
You get the idea right?
3. It juxtaposes these two things against each other.
4. It can resolve the two things.
5. Or it can simply reveal what tension arises and occurs between these two things.
The sonnet came originally from Europe.
The word sonnet comes from two terms, sonet and sonetto, which both mean ‘little song’ and ‘little sound’.
Around the 13th century the word sonnet began to mean a poem that consists of 14 lines. It had developed a strict rhyming plan and a definite structure.
The types of sonnets that are the most well known are:
- English sonnet
- Shakespearean sonnet
- Spenserian sonnet
- Petrarchan sonnet
- Modern sonnet
There are other forms of sonnets: these are less common though.
Valiant Lord, king of the Aragonese
to whom honour grows every day closer,
remember, Lord, the French king
that has come to find you and has left France
With his two sons and that one of Artois;
but they have not dealt a blow with sword or lance
and many barons have left their country:
but a day will come when they will have some to remember.
Our Lord make yourself a company
in order that you might fear nothing;
that one who would appear to lose might win.
Lord of the land and the sea,
as whom the king of England and that of Spain
are not worth as much, if you wish to help them.
The Caudate sonnet (24 lines), Curtal (10 ½ lines) sonnet, Pushkin sonnet, and the 21 line fusion sonnet are other lesser known types of sonnets.
John Milton adapted the sonnet into a contemplative poem, while poets such as John Donne wrote religious sonnets.
During the Restoration sonnets became passé; it wasn’t until the French revolution that a resurgence of sonnets took place.
Again during the 19th century the amount of sonnets would wane, but as experimentation took place with the sonnet, and it offered greater flexibility, the sonnet began to appear on a more regular basis.
These days contemporary poets are adapting the poetic form and to some extent the sonnet has again become fashionable.