By: Giacomo da Lentini

Origins of the Sonnet

Sonnet comes from the Italian word sonneto, which means, "little sound or song." There are two main forms of the Sonnet from which the others are formed: Petrarchan and Shakespearean.

Petrarchan Sonnet

The Petrachan/Italian Sonnet is the first and most common type of Sonnet. Named after the great Italian poet Petrarch, this type of Sonnet is divided into two stanzas, the first eight lines (octave) followed by the final six lines (answering sestet). Sir Thomas Wyatt introduced this form of Sonnet to England in the early sixteenth century. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, modified the Petrarchan, thus establish the structure of the Shakespearean Sonnet.
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Shakespearean Sonnet

The second major type of sonnet, the Shakespearean, or English sonnet, follows a different set of rules. Three quatrains and a couplet follow this rhyme scheme: abab, cdcd, efef, gg. The couplet plays a pivotal role, usually arriving in the form of a conclusion, amplification, or even refutation of the previous three stanzas, often creating an epiphanic quality to the end.
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Works Cited

"Poetic Form: Sonnet." Academy of American Poets, 2004. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.