Further reading

Southall, Raymond. The Courtly Maker: An Essay on the

Poems of Wyatt and His Contemporaries. New York: Barnes

Carol D. Blosser

SONNET From Italian Sonetto for "little song," a sonnet is a 14-line poem, usually in iambic pentameter, that follows various rhyme schemes. The sonnet was developed in 12th or 13th-century Italy, but reached its zenith in the 14th century in the works of Petrarch. Conventional sonnets deal with the subject of idealized, unrequited love. As well, typical sonnet devices include antithesis, conceits, and the blazon. Many sonnets also employ the use of a persona—an assumed identity not necessarily shared by the poet—in order to present renditions of idealized courtly love. Sonnets may be linked together in order to form a complete narrative in what has become known as a SoNNET SEQUENCE.

There are three basic forms of sonnets: the traditional form, called the Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet; the English sonnet, sometimes referred to as the Elizabethan or Shakespearean sonnet; and the rare SPENSErian sonnet (named for Edmund Spenser). In England, sonnets became popular in the 16th century, reaching a peak in the 1590s, although the form remained popular well into the 17th century. Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, are credited with introducing the sonnet to English literature.

See also quatorzain, strambotto.

further reading

Oppenheimer, Paul. "The Origin of the Sonnet." Comparative Literature 34, no. 4 (1982): 289-304. Wilkins, Ernest Hatch. "The Invention of the Sonnet." Modern Philology 13 (1915): 463-494.

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