A-Z: General definitions: Shakespearean sonnet


A sonnet is a poem with a special structure of fourteen lines, which are organised in a particular manner, usually characterised by the pattern of rhyming, which changes as the ideas in the poem evolve. They originated in Italy in the fourteenth century. Shakespeare developed the sonnet form, organising his verse into three groups of four lines (rhyming abab, cdcd, efef) and ending with a rhyming couplet (gg) which often twists, or gives a new attitude to, the thoughts developed in the rest of the sonnet.

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