If It's Square, It's a Sonnet

Chapter 4

Introduction and Explanation

Jarrett Fletcher

English 2 Honors

Ms. Harris

If it's a Square, It' a Sonnet is about the perfect poem in Thomas Foster's eyes. He explans why he think that sonnets are the only poem to be recognized because the other types of poems a less common or require too much analysis. The structure of the poem also as Foster states is a meaning inside itself. A sonnet is this way because of the Iambic pentameter which is the way, in 5 lines, the poem flows and the way the accents are stated.

The benfits from this chapter are to see the perfection of a sonnet.

Structure of a Square

The structure of a sonnet is a 14 line poem

There are a few major types of sonnets, the first type has a in a 8/6 format called the Petrarchan. In petrarchan sonnets the first 8 lines a called the octive, the second 6 lines is called the sestet. The second type of major sonnet is called the Shakespearean which has a 4/4/4/2 pattern. The four liners are called the quatrains and the last two lines are called the couplets. It has a certan number of syllables, roughly ten in each line.

Example of a Shakespearean Sonnet: Shakespeares 29th

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;

For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


Example of a Petrarchan: Alfred Drake

I find no peace, and have no arms for war,
and fear and hope, and burn and yet I freeze,
and fly to heaven, lying on earth's floor,
and nothing hold, and all the world I seize.

My jailer opens not, nor locks the door,
nor binds me to hear, nor will loose my ties;
Love kills me not, nor breaks the chains I wear,
nor wants me living, nor will grant me ease.

I have no tongue, and shout; eyeless, I see;
I long to perish, and I beg for aid;
I love another, and myself I hate.

Weeping I laugh, I feed on misery,
by death and life so equally dismayed:
for you, my lady, am I in this state.


Every Sonnet has a Meaning

Meaning is everything and a Sonnet puts 2 meanings that are close related togather into one ultimate meaning. You have to read in lines not individualy because other wise the meaning would make no since because of the fact that they are arranged in sentences. Sonnets are short and because of that fact they put alot of meaning into the 14 lines. In fact after writing a long letter Blaise Pascal apologised and said, "'I had not time to write a short one."' (Foster 27). This statement means he thinks that sonnets can take time to make perfect in meaning. They are short but they take way more time.

History of a Sonnet

Sonnets have been a part of english poetry since the 1500s.

Below are famous sonnet poets:

Rhyming of a Sonnet

The rhyming scheme of a sonnet can be differant the regular AABB sequence. Rhyming in a sonnet demonstrates imagery in a sonnet. Even though William shakespeare writes his sonnets in a Shakespearean form instead of an Italian(Petrarchan) form he still uses a ababcdcdefefgg rhyming sheme.

The rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet is an abbaabba in the first octive and in the sestet the scheme can change due to the author.

Not every line is going to rhyme with the next line it can follow a differant patern and flow each time.

learning strategy activity : found poem

Learning Strategy Activity


The first learning strategy will be a KWL (what you already know, what you want to know and what you learn after I have taut the lesson).

I will give each person two sticky notes one to write what you Know sonnets and one for What you want to know about a sonnet and post it on the board under the corresponding letter. After I have taught about sonnets I will give you another sticky note that that will say what you have learned and post it under the last letter L. (Hopefully there will be a lot of writing on the last sticky note.)


Found Poems

This technic is used to expand knowledge of new words and practice writing a sonnet


  1. Find 5 words from the sonnet provided.

  2. Create a sonnet using what I have just taught you and also include the 5 words from the exerpt that I provided you.

  3. You will have 5 minutes with you group to complete the task.

  4. When time is up stop writing. I will go around to each table to see how much is completed.

  5. Each group will compare to other groups to see how far you have gotten. You do not have to complete the sonnet.

  6. You may write the sonnet in either form I just taught you.

(Remember to use all 5 words to challenge you and that a sonnet is roughly 10 syllables per line)

Work Cited

Foster, Thomas C. "If It's Square, It's a Sonnet."

How to Read Literature like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to reading between the Lines. New York: Quill, 2003. 22-27. Print.

"William Shakespeare Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.

"Snap Sonnet." 92y.org. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.92y.org/Uptown/Class/Snap-Sonnets-An-Online-Class.aspx.

"Robert Browning Biography." Robert Browning Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/robert_browning/biography.

"William Butler Yeats - Poems, Biography, Quotes." William Butler Yeats - Poems, Biography, Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/william_butler_yeats.

Drake, Alfred. "The Petrarchan Sonnet." The Petrarchan Sonnet. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. http://www.ajdrake.com/e252_fall_04/materials/guides/ren_petrarchan.htm.

Shakespeare, William. "Shakespeare Sonnet 29 - When, in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes." Shakespeare Sonnet 29 - When, in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/29.html.

Thank You Audience Have a Great Day