What better way to share your feelings regarding your significant other than with a romantic love sonnet? Armed with a very basic knowledge of the sonnet, anyone can learn how to write one.
William Shakespeare made the sonnet famous, so famous that the most common form of sonnet is known as the Shakespearean sonnet. Writing a Shakespearean love sonnet may sound daunting and complicated, but anyone, especially someone in love, can write their way into that special someone’s heart.
Before you begin, consider the subject of the sonnet. While sonnets can be about anything or anyone, a love sonnet usually focuses on the significant person in the writer’s life, with special emphasis placed on their appearance, talents, strengths and any other characteristics the writer wants to focus on. Make a list of positive traits and other things you would like to mention before you begin writing your sonnet. Once you have your list, you will have your ideas in place so you can focus on following the sonnet form.
Once you have a focal point for your sonnet, along with a few things about your focal point, you need to familiarize yourself with the basic form of a sonnet. The Shakespearean sonnet is made up of fourteen lines in two sections. The first section is made up of three quatrains, or four line stanzas and a stanza is a group of lines in a poem. The first section of the sonnet presents the general theme or focal point of the poem and the second section is just a one-stanza couplet, or two lines that rhyme. The second section of the sonnet wraps up the the thought or theme presented in the first section, and puts a bow on it, so to speak.
Once you understand the form, should you decide to follow the Shakespearean form, try to capture the rhythm of iambic pentameter. If you write in iambic pentameter, your sonnet will sound especially nice read aloud since it will have a natural, almost musical rhythm to it.
An iamb is a rhythmic meter in a poem called a foot – each foot has two syllables, with the emphasis on the second syllable. An easy way to understand this emphasis is by saying, “Good bye” aloud. When you say it out loud, “good” is said a little quieter than “bye”, so it’s “Good BYE”. Another example is “to-DAY”. A line of iambic pentameter is made up of five feet, making each line in your sonnet ten syllables long. It may take some tapping and saying lines aloud to get a sense of the syllables and emphasis but eventually you’ll get a sense of how iambic pentameter sounds. You’ll probably discover that you already say a lot of things in iambic pentameter.
After figuring out the structure and the rhythm of the poem, the last technical aspect of writing a love sonnet is the rhyme scheme. In the first section, the rhyme scheme is a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f. Each letter in this line scheme represents the last word of a line that rhymes. For example, if the last word of your first line is “love”, the last word in third line would rhyme with the first, so you would pick something like, “above”, for example. The second and fourth lines’ last words would rhyme, and so on. With the second section, the couplets rhyme, therefore the last words follow a g-g scheme.
Try not to get discouraged if the rules and form of the traditional Shakespearean sonnet seem overwhelming. There is a lot to learn and understand but, with some practice, it will get much easier and it will seem like you have written sonnets throughout your life. Even if it takes a little extra effort, your sweetheart will notice and appreciate the hard work you put into giving him or her a unique, heartfelt Valentine’s gift.