With a new year comes changes and new goals to deliver. Given the success of our last book project we have discussed to create a book that could be used as a handbook of forms while at the same time include good examples of your poetry to be used in the dVerse little handbook on forms.

We would like to cover as many forms as possible from different part of the world but we have decided not to cover the Japanese forms as they are covered in so many other places.

Therefore every second MTB will be a “Poetic Form” entry, and the prompt will remain open for four weeks to allow for editing and perfecting our entries.

You can of course combine the Poetics and other MTB entries to give you more possibilities to get into the handbook.

I will kick off with the sonnet, and we will be giving you opportunities to take part in this collective new effort. As part of this we also ask anyone willing to guest host a form. Just send us a message and we can plan entries from you.

We have done various aspect of the sonnet many times before, and the attached prompt is meant to summarize this for you.

The sonnet

A brief history

The sonnet was originally created in Italy and it’s creation has been attributed to Giacomo da Lentini in the 13th century. The word sonnet is derived from son (sound and song) and a diminutive ending giving an interpretation “little song”.

The most famous Italian sonneteer is Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) who have given name to the Petrarchan sonnet. Other famous poets writing sonnets include poets like Dante Alighieri


The sonnet first came to England in the sixteenth century and were introduced by Thomas Wyatt, as translated Petrarchan sonnets, but were later perfected and evolved by famous poets like William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser.

Sonnets have since continued to attract the interest of poets who have added to the structure of the sonnet without changing the basic structure of the poem. Pablo Neruda for instance has kept the basic structure but removed the rhymes and meter.

Basic Structure

A sonnet consists of 14 lines structured into two parts. The first part gives an “argument” and the second part a “solution” separated by a “volta” (a turn), in the italian sonnet the argument consists of the first octet leaving the last sextet for the resolution. The volta is therefore placed at the ninth line. In the English (or Shakespearean) sonnet the volta is placed in the thirteenth line, leaving only the last two lines for a resolution. The volta is often marked in a change of rhyme scheme and even if there is no clear difference in argument and solution the volta should mark a change of perspective.

For most of us we think of sonnets in terms of a love poems exclusively but going through the world of sonnets there are many examples on other topics such as religion or philosophy. There are even sonnets on politics.


Sonnets written in English have almost exclusively been written in iambic pentameter, which actually is the meter that most resembles natural speech, which makes a sonnet very easy to read, but if you decide not to write ten syllable length remember to make the lines approximately equal in length to get the balance of the sonnet right.


In many articles and posts about sonnets I have read it seems like the most important part of a sonnet is the rhyme scheme. I think rhyme schemes comes secondary to a good sonnet, but here are some of the most commonly used rhyme schemes.

In a Petrarchan sonnet the rhyme scheme of the first octet is ABBA ABBA and the concluding sextet (after the volta) is either CDE CDE or CDC CDC.

A Shakespearean sonnet has a rhyme scheme in three quartets followed by a couplet (containing the volta) as follows. ABAB CDCD EFEF GG and a Spenserian sonnet has a rhyme scheme of ABAB BCBC CDCD EE which exemplifies a nested rhyme scheme bringing me into my favorite rhyme scheme, Terza Rima where the sonnet is divided into 4 tercets and a couplet instead with the following rhyme scheme: ABA BCB CDC DED EE.

There are many more rhyme schemes, and you can probably come up with a new one, but remember you always have the option of using no rhyme scheme at all.

This article on sonnets will be updated based on your input and grow into an entry for our upcoming book.

  • Please write a sonnet and link up below. Use the opportunity to read through the comment you receive, and edit if you like to.
  • You are welcome to link up an old sonnet that you feel fits the prompt or you can take a favorite free verse poem and rewrite it as a sonnet.
  • If you like it would be interesting if you added a short note about your thoughts when writing the sonnet. The comments will be a part of the book in the end.
  • Comment as usually and if you would like to receive constructive feedback on your poem please indicate that in your comments, and if you ask for constructive feedback be prepared to give constructive feedback as well
  • If you would like to edit and improve your poem please update a new link in Mr Linky so it shouws