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The Sonnet
Sonnet Comparison Chart
English Verse

The Heroic Sonnet departs from the quatorzain and stretches the verse for eighteen lines which could put into question whether or not it is a true sonnet. But, John Donne's The Token "sings" with the best of sonnets and convinced me this verse form easily qualifies. This longer sonnet form dates back to 16th century England.

The elements of the Heroic Sonnet are:

  1. metric, iambic pentameter.
  2. a poem in 18 lines made up of 4 alternate rhymed quatrains and ending with a rhymed heroic couplet.
  3. rhymed, rhyme scheme ababcdcdefefghgh ii
  4. composed without designated arrival of the pivot, but the poem is summarized and concluded by the ending couplet.

    The Token by John Donne (1572-1631)

    Send me some token, that my hope may live,
    Or that my easeless thoughts may sleep and rest;
    Send me some honey to make sweet my hive,
    That in my passions I may hope the best.
    I beg no ribbon wrought with thine own hands,
    To knit our loves in the fantastic strain
    Of new-touched youth; nor ring to show the stands
    Of our affection, that as that's round and plain,
    So should our loves meet in simplicity;
    No, nor the corals which thy wrist enfold,
    Laced up together in congruity,
    To show our thoughts should rest in the same hold;
    No, nor thy picture, though most gracious,
    And most desired, because best like the best;
    Nor witty lines, which are most copious,
    Within the writings which thou hast addressed.

    Send me nor this, nor that, to increase my store,
    But swear thou think'st 'I love thee,' and no more.

    *Note: The term "Heroic Sonnet" isn't exclusive to the verse form described above. 17th century English poet John Milton wrote a series of Petrarchan Sonnets which are referred to as his Heroic Sonnets not because of the structure but because they were sonnets praising past heroics. In this case the term Heroic Sonnet refers more to the theme of the sonnets than the verse form.

    Sonnet 15 by John Milton (1608-1674)

    Fairfax,whose name in armes through Europe rings,
    Filling each mouth with envy, or with praise,
    And all her jealous monarchs with amaze,
    And rumors loud, that daunt remotest kings,

    Thy firm unshak'n vertue ever brings
    Victory home, though new rebellions raise
    Thir Hydra heads, & the false North displaies
    Her brok'n league, to impe their serpent wings.

    O yet a nobler task awaites thy hand;
    For what can Warrs, but endless Warr still breed,
    Till Truth, & Right from Violence be freed,

    And Public Faith cleard from the shamefull brand
    Of Public Fraud. In vain doth Valour bleed
    While Avarice, and Rapine share the land.

Milton was not only busy with his "heroic sonnets", he also created a new sonnet form the Miltonic Sonnet

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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