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The Sonnet
Sonnet Comparison Chart
English Verse

English poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is credited with being the leader of the romance movement in England. He sometimes wrote his poems in a series focused on a period of history or cultural event, often in sonnets. His Ecclesiastic Sonnets which chronicle the schism between the Catholic Church and the Church of England are typical of his endeavors.

Most of his sonnets were written in the Petrarchan or Italian Sonnet form. However, there is one sonnet in which he created his own rhyme scheme, the criteria of which ultimately became known as the Wordsworth Sonnet.

It is a sonnet about sonnets and appears to be a variation of the Petrarchan frame, with a little different rhyme. But where the Petrarchan sonnet makes its turn from conflict to solution between the octave and the sestet, this sonnet seems to pivot in the very last line. From the second line on, it becomes a kind of Catalogue poem or Blason making its case for the acceptance of the sonnet form. The octave-sestet structure is evident in the rhyme scheme but in fact L8 is enjambed and there really is no separation of thought from octave to sestet. It is a list of reason after reason why the sonnet is well deserved and in the last line there is a change of tone from praise to grief because there are too few.

The elements of the Wordsworth Sonnet are:

  1. a quatorzain. Looking at the rhyme scheme only, one could say the quatorzain is made up of an octave of 2 envelope quatrains, an alternating rhyme quatrain and a rhymed couplet in that order.
  2. metered, iambic pentameter.
  3. rhymed abbaacca dede ff.
  4. written as a Catalogue poem.
  5. it is composed with the pivot or volta in the very last line.

    Scorn Not the Sonnet by William Wordsworth 1827

    Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
    Mindless of its just honours; with this key
    Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
    Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;
    A thousand times this pip did Tasso sound;
    With it Camoens soothed an exile's grief;
    The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
    Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
    His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
    It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faeryland
    To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
    Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
    The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
    Soul-animating strains, alas, too few!

America has its own unique sonnet form, the Blues Sonnet

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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