- The sonnet is a 14-line lyric poem that has its origins in medieval Italy. The term comes from the Italian sonnetto, meaning “little sound or song.” While the sonnet has become a prevalent literary form in a number of languages and has acquired different forms (most notably the Shakespearean or English sonnet form), the first sonnets followed what is now known as the Italian or Petrarchan form, consisting of hendecasyllabic (or 11-syllable) lines arranged into an octave (or eight-line section) followed by a sestet (or six-line part). Typically there is a turn of thought or volta beginning with the sestet, so that a conventional sonnet might ask a question in the octave to be answered in the sestet, or introduce a situation in the octave to be interpreted in the sestet, or express a desire or complaint in the octave that is assuaged in the sestet— any two-part progression that involves a pivotal change that can occur in the sestet of the poem. The earliest extant sonnets are credited to GIACOMO DA LENTINO, a notary attached to the imperial court of Frederick II in Sicily, who flourished between 1215 and 1233. Giacomo’s sonnets rhymed abababab cdecde; the following is Frederick Goldin’s translation of one of Giacomo’s earliest:The basilisk before the shining mirrordies with pleasure;the swan sings with greatest rapturewhen it is nearest death;at the height of its pleasure the peacockgets upset when it looks at its feet;the phoenix burns itself all upto return to be reborn.I think I have become much like these creatures,I who go gladly to death before her beautyand make my song lusty as I approach the end;in merriment I suddenly despair,burning in fire I am made new again in joybecause of you, whom I long to return to, gentlest one.(Goldin 1973, 219, ll. 1–14)Like most of the later Italian sonnets, this one is about love, and plays on the COURTLY LOVE convention of dying for love of one’s lady. The turn of thought accompanying the sestet’s change of rhyme involves the speaker’s comparison of himself with the fantastic animals he has introduced in the octave.The sonnet form was picked up and used by many later poets of the Italian Middle Ages. In particular the Tuscan poet GUITTONE D’AREZZO altered the form in the later 13th century to create the abbaabba rhyme scheme for the octave, a pattern that became standard in all later Italian sonnets. The great Tuscan poets Guido GUINIZELLI and Guido CAVALCANTI utilized this form, and DANTE included love sonnets in both his Rime and his VITA NUOVA. But it was Francis PETRARCH whose influence spread the sonnet form across Europe and gave his name to the traditional Italian sonnet form. CHAUCER was the first to translate a Petrarchan sonnet into English, in the Canticus Troili embedded in the first book of his courtly ROMANCE, TROILUS AND CRISEYDE, but Chaucer did not copy Petrarch’s form. The marquis de Santillana (1398–1458) introduced the sonnet form into Spain, and it became popular in France and England during the Renaissance, with Sir Thomas Wyatt first imitating Petrarch’s form and style in English the early 16th century.Bibliography■ Goldin, Frederick, ed. and trans. German and Italian Lyrics of the Middle Ages: An Anthology and a History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.■ Kleinhenz, Christopher. The Early Italian Sonnet: The First Century (1220–1321). Lecce, Italy: Milella, 1986.■ Wilkins, Ernest Hatch. The Invention of the Sonnet, and Other Studies in Italian Literature. Rome: Edizioni de Storia e letteratura, 1959.
Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.
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SONNET — SONNE Poème à forme fixe de quatorze vers répartis en quatre strophes, le sonnet tient dans la littérature européenne, et notamment française, une place extrêmement importante. On sait qu’«un sonnet sans défaut vaut seul un long poème» (Boileau) … Encyclopédie Universelle
Sonnet 18 — sonnet|18 Shall I compare thee to a summer s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer s lease hath all too short a date; Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 55 — Sonnet|55 Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme; But you shall shine more bright in these contents Than unswept stone besmear d with sluttish time. When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 1 — sonnet|1 From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby beauty s rose might never die, But as the riper should by time decease, His tender heir might bear his memory: But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes, Feed st thy light st… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 30 — Sonnet|30 When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, And with old woes new wail my dear time s waste: Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow, For precious… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 63 — Sonnet|63 Against my love shall be, as I am now, With Time s injurious hand crush d and o er worn; When hours have drain d his blood and fill d his brow With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn Hath travell d on to age s steepy night, And… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 2 — sonnet|2 When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, And dig deep trenches in thy beauty s field, Thy youth s proud livery, so gazed on now, Will be a tatter d weed, of small worth held: Then being ask d where all thy beauty lies, Where all the… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 29 — Sonnet|29 When, in disgrace with fortune and men s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 13 — Sonnet|13 O! that you were your self; but, love, you are No longer yours, than you your self here live: Against this coming end you should prepare, And your sweet semblance to some other give: So should that beauty which you hold in lease Find no … Wikipedia
Sonnet 3 — Sonnet|3 Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest Now is the time that face should form another; Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest, Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother. For where is she so fair whose unear d womb… … Wikipedia
Sonnet 60 — Sonnet|60 Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity,… … Wikipedia