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Curtal or Curtailed Sonnet

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Explore the Craft of Writing PoetryCurtal or Curtailed Sonnet is a Petrarchan Sonnet which is proportionately ¾ in size. It is a 19th century innovation by English poet Gerard Anthony Hopkins who prefaced his publication Poems (1918) with an explanation of the verse form which he used in 3 of his sonnets.


The defining features of the Curtal sonnet is:

  • 11 lines, proportionately ¾ of a Petrarchan Sonnet structure, a sixain followed by a quatrain followed by a tail or half line.
  • metered, L1-L10 iambic pentameter , L11 is trimeter.
  • rhymed, rhyme scheme abcabc defde.


    Peace by Gerard Manley Hopkins


    Curtal Sonnet by Judi Van gorder


    For centuries the sonnet held esteem

    with praise for Laura, Juliette and more,

    the lute has even taken up its place.

    Without effort rising up like cream

    the little song can touch us at the core

    with oven birds and stars that race.


    This shortened form has little time to waste

    with condensed rhyme and shorter line

    to finish off the tome without refrain.

    And so, I try to write this poem in haste

    and hope to make it shine.

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