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Considering the Sonnet as Verse Form Essay

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Considering the Sonnet as Verse Form


The sonnet originated in Italy and was first written by a man called
Giacomo da Lentino. This form soon started to become popular, because
it allowed the poet to express a large amount of thoughts or ideas in
only fourteen lines. It was then developed by many poets to suit their
own needs. It was especially popular with Cavalcanti, Dante and
Petrarch. Francesco Petrarch was probably one of the most famous of
the Italian sonnet writers and so the Italian form is also known as
the Petrarchan form. This type of poem eventually spread to England,
brought over by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of surrey. The
Petrarchan form is very rigid and is not open to variation in rhyme
scheme or sequence (with an octave and then a sestet and a Volta in
the middle). It is also very set with subject matter - love, time and
change. The sonnet form has changed a great deal since the time of the
first Petrarchan sonnets. In this essay I have discussed the changes
that have been made to the sonnet form, by whom and for what reason.

The Petrarchan form of the sonnet was one of the earliest forms. This
type is very rigid in format. It starts with the first eight lines,
the octave, which states the problem or question. It then has a Volta
in which the sonnet changes direction, or attitude. Then the sestet
(the last six lines) follows by answering the question or solves the
problem. Sir Thomas Wyatt's sonnet 'Who list to hunt' is a famous
example of the Petrarchan form in England. This sonnet was written
about the queen and in the octave he talks about how he hunts for her
but in 'vain travail' since it is like...


... middle of paper ...


...r Volta. Jennings
sonnet has also lost its iambic pentameter format and therefore reads
more like a piece of prose.

Since the 16th century, the sonnet form has changed a great deal, from
the original Petrarchan form, with its strict rhyme scheme, iambic
pentameter rhythm, Volta in the middle and subject matter of love,
time or change to the present day sonnet, which almost cannot be
identified as a sonnet. It has no strict rhyme scheme, it does not
always have an iambic pentameter rhythm, it does not have to have a
Volta and it has no particular subject matter. These changes have
normally been because the writer wanted to make their sonnets personal
to themselves or occasionally because the change made it easier to
write. Whatever the reason, these changes have led to many different
types of sonnet being written.


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