Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Sonnet

From The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco, a classic published in 1968 and still used as a reference:
Roughly speaking, any fourteen line poem written in rhymed iambic pentameter verse. However, there are two basic traditional patterns of the sonnet. 
The Petrarchan or Italian Sonnet is divided into an octave and a sestet. The octave's rhyme is abba abba.
He goes on to describe the sestet.  For my purposes, I will study the octave rhyming scheme.

     lines:     meters and rhymes:
  1.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xa
  2.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xb
  3.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xb
  4.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xa
  5.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xa
  6.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xb
  7.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xb
  8.      xx  xx  xx  xx  xa 
    9.       xx  xx  xx  xx  xc
  10.       xx  xx  xx  xx  xd
  11.       xx  xx  xx  xx  xe
  12.       xx  xx  xx  xx  xc
  13.       xx  xx  xx  xx  xd
  14.       xx  xx  xx  xx  xe

The Shakespearean or English sonnet is divided into three Sicilian quatrains and one heroic couplet, written in iambic pentameter measures.

 Lines     Rhymes       Word example

  1.           a                     green
  2.           b                     hot
  3.           a                     bean
  4.           b                     cot
  5.           c                     very
  6.           d                     loud
  7.           c                     merry
  8.           d                     proud
  9.           e                     penny
  10.           f                     shout
  11.           e                     many
  12.           f                     clout
  13.           g                     sweet
  14.           g                     meat
Traditional Example of an English sonnet would be Shakespeare's 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 gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest,
Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

by William Shakespeare

Here is one I found on the internet of a modern sonnet by Denise Rogers at this site:

The sonnet form is old and full of dust
And yet I want to learn to write one well.
To learn new forms and grow is quite a must,
But I will learn it quickly, I can tell.
And so I sit, today, with pen in hand,
Composing three new quatrains with a rhyme.
The rhythm flows like wind at my command.
The A-B-A-B form consumes my time.
But I’m not done until there’s fourteen lines.
One ending couplet, after three quatrains.
I’ve tried to write this new form several times.
The effort’s huge; I have to rack my brain.
But I persist, my fourteen lines now done.
I wrote my poem; my sonnet work is won.

Now I shall get to work on a sonnet.
Update at 11:00 AM on Feb. 11, 2015:

I am going to Phoenix tomorrow for a four day Scrabble Tournament.  Barbara Van Alen and Larry Rand will again be the directors.  It will be the 31st annual tournament there in Scottsdale, all of which Barbara has directed or co-directed. There are monetary prizes, door prizes, and claim to fame bragging rights in six different categories of achievement according to individual ratings.

Here it is my sonnet written for the games beginning on Feb. 13, 2015:

A Sonnet to a Scrabble Tournament

It's off to Scrabble Thursday I will go
To Scottsdale where the clime is very hot
To try and put together words that flow
And maybe use some words that I'd forgot.

Surprising those opponents ever new
Using high value tiles, oh please, oh please!
With words that from their mem'ries maybe flew
To fling down on the board...effortless ease

Just let him challenge esoteric words
Only to see the challenge not prevail
For nonetheless we are all wordy nerds
And each time Z Z Va might say "no fail"

So wish me luck on February games
And also bring to others goodly fames.

(go to this post for more information about the games last year in Phoenix)

* (Z Z VA is a computerized word judge showing either "acceptable" or "non acceptable" words in play)

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