What is a sonnet?
~ A Sonnet is a moment's monument,--
From The Sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
~ The sonnet is a crown, whereof the rhymes
Are for Thought's purest gold the jewel-stones;
From Sonnet by E.A. Robinson
~ Staunch meter, great song, it is yours, at length,
To prove how stronger you are than my strength.
From Single Sonnet by Louise Bogan
OK, so a sonnet is a poem that inspires poets to write about it in sonnet form.
Hmm...I guess that doesn't tell us what it is. Sonnets are 14-line poems with a rhyming format that is traditionally either: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g (the Shakespearean version) or a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a c-d-e-c-d-e or c-d-c-c-d-c (Italian versions). But there's a pretty wide variety of rhyming patterns.
Don't forget the iambic pentameter! Iambic pentameter emphasizes every other syllable of a ten syllable line, so the lines have a certain rhythm. (OK, sometimes you CAN forget the iambic pentameter, such as when you are just writing a sonnet for yourself. If you're writing for your teacher and they want you to write one Shakespeare-style, then you have to keep it in mind.)
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950, could rock a sonnet:
Time does not bring relief...
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,--so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
and rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
pinned down by need and moaning for release,
or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.
"Yet many a man is making friends with death
even as I speak, for lack of love alone..." -- wow!
The title of this post is from E.A. Robinson's Sonnet cited above. Scroll down about five poems to find it.
4ndyman wrote a sonnet to help students with their sonnet homework.
He said: "If sonnet homework proves to be a bear,
Just break it down into syllabic lumps,
Then listen to the words. Now do you hear
duh-DUMP duh-DUMP duh-DUMP duh-DUMP duh-DUMPs?"
Mix and Match lines of Shakespeare's sonnets to make your own.
A lesson plan for translating Shakespeare's sonnets
Sonnet by Billy Collins
"Sonnet," the sweater