The sonnet, a tried-and-true poetic form stretching back to 13th-century Italy and England, continues its longstanding popularity among contemporary British and American poets. The standard form is fourteen lines of iambic pentameter with various end-rhyme patterns, but poets have experimented with that structure within both the Italian (Petrarchan) and English (Shakespearian) versions.
We’ll look closely at sonnets by Shakespeare, Donne, poets of the Romantic period, and during the two World Wars, as well as some by Frost, cummings, Heaney, Wilbur, and some living poets you probably haven’t heard of.
I promise you’ll find delights and some surprises, as well as gaining admiration and enhanced respect for this familiar form. We’ll dig deeply into 3-5 sonnets per class, in chronological groupings. I’ll ask you to read each one several times, including aloud, before class. All the sonnets should be readily available online, except for those in the last two classes, which I’ll send you by email. Surrender yourself to their lyricism!