Poetry by Jeff Green


How to sonnet in fourteen easy steps

by cricketjeff on January 13, 2009.  © Jeff Green, All rights reserved

This is the classic English sonnet form
You must put five diDUMS on ev’ry line
In Shakespeare’s time such writing was the norm
His sonnets are much prettier than mine

Lines five to eight continue with the theme
Development is what this part is called
By now it should be sounding quite supreme
At ugly lines the critics are appalled

A “volta” makes you look the other way
lines nine to twelve should see the other side
You try to find a pretty way to say
The things the first eight lines had tried to hide

A couplet ends your sonnet on a high
So take a bow and kiss your fans goodbye!

Author notes

An example of how to write a Shakespearian sonnet.

Give it a try they are very satisfying!!!

14 ten syllable lines in iambic pentameter, this means with alternating light and heavy stresses like this …

this IS | the CLASS | ic ENG | lish SON | net FORM
you MUST | put FIVE | diDUMS | on EV | ry LINE
in SHAKE | speare’s TIME | such WRIT | ing WAS | the NORM
his SON | nets ARE | much PRE | ttiER | than MINE

Some syllables in English are always louder than others, with practice you will hear these patterns naturally and find it easy to get the right, just say it out loud, and LISTEN!!!

Rhyme each set of four lines abab that is the first and third lines rhyme, so do the second and fourth. Then 5 and 7, 6 and 8 etc. you end with lines 13 and 14 rhyming and this is called the couplet.

The third stanza, from line 9, traditionally contains a volta (Italian for about face) where you state a different point of view and the couplet sums things up.

Have fun!