Writing a Love Sonnet: A Crash Course

RomanticWriting

Writing someone you love and admire a romantic love sonnet is a meaningful gesture, something just about anyone would appreciate. Before you get out a pen and paper, it is important to know the basics of writing a love sonnet. Let’s talk about penning a perfect sonnet:

Form and Structure

There are two general types of sonnets: the English, or Shakespearean, sonnet and the Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet. Both contain 14 lines and two sections with the first section usually focusing on the main theme of the poem and the second section concluding that thought.

In the English sonnet, the first section is made up of three quatrains, or four-line stanzas, which are groups of lines in a poem; the second section is a couplet, or two-line stanza. In the Italian sonnet, the first section is an octave, or stanza with eight lines, and the second section is a sestet, or six-line stanza.

Rhyme Scheme

Both the English and Italian sonnets have specific rhyme schemes. The English sonnet follows a rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f in the first section. Each letter represents lines where the last words rhyme. For example, if the first line of the sonnet ended in the word “true”, the third line’s last word would rhyme, using something like “you”. The last section is a rhyming couplet, following a g-g rhyme scheme.

The Italian sonnet’s rhyme scheme is a little different. In the first section, it follows a rhyme scheme of a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a. The second section’s rhyme scheme is either c-d-e-c-d-e or c-d-c-d-c-d, the choice being yours alone. As you can see, the Italian form uses more similar rhyming words than the English style; that said, keep your word choice in mind if you use the Italian sonnet form as there are some words that only have one word that rhymes.

Rhythm

In general, most poems have a rhythm, or meter of some kind, which gives the poem a sort of musical, lilting sound when read aloud. Most sonnets written in the English style follow iambic pentameter. A line in a sonnet is made up iambs, which are single, stressed and unstressed syllables. Two iambs make a foot, with the second syllable stressed.

An example of this would be with the phrase, “good bye”. When you say “good bye”, usually the “bye” is said louder than “good”, so it sounds like,” good BYE”. If you like, to illustrate the difference, try switching the emphasis and say “good” louder. In a line of iambic pentameter, there are five feet, or ten syllables. While it may seem tricky and might require some extra work, if you want to stick to the classic sonnet form, it is important to work out the meter.

Subject

Finally, when writing a love sonnet, it is important that you know what you want your poem to say. A regular sonnet can be about anything from a person or place to a philosophy or a concept. However, the main focus of most love sonnets is a particular person with the depth of your relationship shaping the sonnet.

If your sonnet is for someone you’ve admired or just started seeing, it may be a little superficial and focus primarily the person’s appearance and/or some general personality traits you have noticed. If your poem’s focus is your significant other, whom you know inside and out, your sonnet will probably honor the things you love about their character, talents and strengths as opposed to the superficial aspects, though you can mention them, too. Depending on your relationship and how long you’ve been together, you might write a sonnet about how you met and the nature of your relationship with that special someone. There are many options and, if you keep an open mind, ideas will come to mind.

Poetry is one of the best gifts you can share since it gives that special someone a unique look into your true feelings. A sonnet is a wonderful gesture of love and appreciation.



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