Famous sonnet writers include Petrarch, William Shakespeare, John Milton and Edmund Spenser. Each of these writers added his own variations and innovations to the sonnet, greatly influencing other writers. A sonnet is a 14-line poem, typically written in iambic pentameter and adhering to a rigid rhyme structure.Know More
The Italian poet Petrarch is responsible for the oldest form of the sonnet. Petrarch's sonnets consisted of two stanzas: the eight-line octave and the six-line sestet. Petrarchan sonnets present an observation, argument or question within the octave and then offer a response in the sestet. These sonnets are marked by a turn in meaning, or volta, which occurs between the eighth and ninth lines. John Milton freed the Petrarchan sonnet from some of its rigid constraints, shifting its focus to more personal, interior concerns and blurring the distinction between the octave and the sestet.
William Shakespeare is responsible for the other major form of the sonnet. Shakespeare's works took a different form than Petrarch's, consisting of three four-line quatrains and a concluding two-line couplet. The ending couplet is a crucial part of the sonnet, typically offering some sort of epiphany or answer related to the previous 12 lines. Edmund Spenser took influence from Shakespeare, but shifted the formula, interweaving the rhyme scheme of the quatrains and providing linking couplets between quatrains. Spenser's sonnets also moved away from Shakespeare's revelatory ending couplets.Learn more about Classics
The epic conventions in John Milton's "Paradise Lost" include the invocation of the muse in the beginning of story, the story beginning in the middle of the action, and the elevated style, subject matter and tone. Milton also uses epic similes to describe the events and characters of the story.Full Answer >
Spenserian sonnets, which developed from Edmund Spenser's work "The Faerie Queen," are 14-line poems with the rhyme scheme ababbcbccdcdee. Usually, the first 12 lines develop three related ideas in quatrains, or four-line sections, while the last two lines create the volta, or "turn."Full Answer >
The theme of Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser is that no one lives forever, but his lady's virtues and their love for each other will be immortalized forever in the poem. The waves of the ocean in the poem represent the passing of time, and the writing in the sand represents the lady and their love.Full Answer >
John Milton's sonnet "How Soon Hath Time" is a contemplation on the relationship between youth, adulthood and time. The sonnet is believed to have been written as a response to a friend who was pushing Milton to join the ministry and to stop studying and wasting his life.Full Answer >