Poetry Writing Exercise #11: Sonnets

Discussion related to the topic Poetry Writing Exercise #11: Sonnets

Forum : All About Writing : Poetry Writing Exercise #11: Sonnets

Posted at: Aug 7, 2010 at 5:50 PM 
It's time to put together everything we've known into a very well known and challenging poetry form: the sonnet.

We're going to do Elizabethan Sonnets, as those are the kind that are easiest in the English language.

1. The poem must be in iambic pentameter.
2. The poem must have three quatrains, each with an alternating line rhyme scheme. Each quatrain should be self-contained; in other words, they must develop a complete thought.
3. The poem must conclude with a heroic couplet. The couplet often takes everything that comes before and puts it in a new light, or gives a bit of a surprise twist to what has been said before.

Thus, the poem has this form:


Here are some examples of Elizabethan Sonnets on this site: To Tommy, Hawk, Nick (The Boy with Half a Brain)

Posted at: Aug 8, 2010 at 3:15 AM 
As you think about writing a sonnet, I should mention a couple more things...

First, it may be a good idea to outline your thematic plan first; you'll notice that in two of the sonnets I linked in the previous post, I outlined the topics of the quatrains and the couplet. This outline was developed before I even started writing. Doing that often helps me to write better poems.

Second, don't be afraid to use slant rhymes - rhymes that are not perfect. For example, in the poem about the boy with half a brain, I have turned and slurred as rhymes, even though they are not perfect rhymes. One of my favorite sonnets I've written is Cruel Silence which actually ends with a slant rhyme.

Third, writing a sonnet takes some time; you may not be able to accomplish this exercise as quickly as the others. If you need to spread your work out over a few days, and only write one or two this week, that's okay!

Posted at: Aug 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM 
One more comment on Elizabethan Sonnets...if you look at the following piece Prince of Peace, you might notice that it's not really an Elizabethan Sonnet, as it's missing some rhymes. If you have a hard time getting every other line to rhyme, you could do the same thing. It's not, strictly speaking, an Elizabethan Sonnet, but it's a good way to get started.

Posted at: Aug 8, 2010 at 6:11 PM 
Sonnets seem to lend themselves to covering serious subjects rather than silly, so this seems just a tad frivolous! :D

I sit within my cabin small and sweet
And hear the rattling, laughing rustling sounds
Of noisy campers getting set for sleep
And all the staff who do their nightly rounds.
So here I sit alone and try to write
A silly, quaint Elizabethan Sonnet,
To post within the forum of my site,
And let my readers contemplate upon it.
Oh, yes, I've written quatrains one and two,
So now I'm on to writing number three,
Alas, I haven't got the slightest clue
How I should end this bit of poetry...
Except I know that even all the stoics
Ended up with couplets quite heroic.

R. Wesley Lovil
Posted at: Aug 9, 2010 at 9:19 AM 
Ode to Frustration

To write a sonnet, such an easy chore
Jot down some words that rhyme like June and moon
Yet wait, its lacking cadence it needs something more
I don't have it yet but then I may get it soon
I see I'm over my head in a wash of mixed meter
What once was easy I now see fraught with my doubt
You cannot slide easy nor can you be a cheater
I'm getting so flustered I'm starting to pout
My instructions are good but my talent is not
So here is my sonnet it's the best that I got
Forum : All About Writing : Poetry Writing Exercise #11: Sonnets

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