To learn more about rhyming scheme check out the Eden Lit Lesson ”The Use Of Rhyme In Poetry”
The original sonnets were written in Italian, but they are written in all languages now. It is traditionally a love poem but the form is useful for writing about any subject or topic. What sets a sonnet apart is the depth of feeling in the poem.
In this form the poet first draws the reader’s attention to a problem or situation and then solves the problem or situation. This then becomes the most important part of the poem; the point where the problem begins to turn toward the solution. This element or turning point is called the “volta”.
Each type of sonnet is different only in the way they are divided into sections and rhyming patterns:
The Italian sonnet (Petrarchan)- is the original form of the sonnet. This sonnet form is the most rigid. It consists of two sections: the first is a set of eight lines (an octave) with an abba, abba rhyme pattern; the second is a set of six lines (sestet) with a cdc, cdc rhyme pattern for the Italian form and cdc, dcd rhyme pattern for the Sicilian form. There is never an added couplet at the end of the sonnet in this form. The volta is ALWAYS at the ninth line in an Italian sonnet.
The English Sonnet- The most common form of sonnet is the English Sonnet (aka Shakespearian Sonnet). This type of sonnet is constructed of 3 sets of four sentences, known as quatrains, that have alternating rhyming schemes (abab, cdcd, efef) followed by a single couplet. The couplet is a set of two sentences that have an end rhyme. Shakespeare often placed the volta in at the ninth line but the English Sonnet is actually more forgiving. Having the volta in the ninth line allows the poet ample room to explain the solution!
The Spenserian Sonnet- is named after its creator Edmund Spenser. He played around with the traditional rhyme and stanza pattern and created a poetry form that consists of 3 sets of quatrains in the Sicilian style with an added couplet to conclude. The rhyme scheme should look like abab,bcbc,cdcd, ee. Each of the quatrains, individually, introduces a specific thought/idea but the rhyme scheme provides cohesion so that all of the quatrains form a complete unit.
Learning about the work that goes into writing a sonnet can make reading them much more entertaining. Writing a sonnet can be an undertaking but, when done well, it can be a breathtaking way to show how you would resolve a problem!