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March 26, 2016

Italian Sonnet

Italian Sonnet

The sonnet is thought to originate in Italy, and created by Giacomo Da Lentini; he was the head of the Sicilian School under Emperor Frederick II. The word "sonnet" derives from the Italian word "sonetto," which means a little sound or song.

Characteristics of the Italian Sonnet

In an Italian Sonnet, the writer will use elaborate, flowery, embellished, and artificial language to make a lengthy comparison between a person and thing or idea.

Structure of the Italian Sonnet

Quatrain #1: abba
Quatrain #2 abba
Turn (volta)
Sestet: cdcdcd or cdecde

The two quatrains make up the octave, which is where the problem, question, or the expression of an emotional tension of the poem is presented.

The Volta (usually line 9) is a shift from the question/ problem/ emotional tension to a proposed solution for that question or problem, or relief of the emotional tension. The turn also denotes a change of tone, mood, or stance of the poem.

The sestet is where the poet attempts to answer the question that he set forth in the octave. The sestet varies in rhyme scheme, but does not have a rhyming couplet at the end.

Literary Devices Commonly Used in Italian Sonnets

Two vastly different objects are compared to each other with the help of metaphors or similes. A comparison becomes a conceit when the author tries to make the reader admit a similarity between two things even though we know that there is no real comparison between the two; this is why conceits are often surprising.

a comparison between two things that are unrelated, but share some common characteristics.

makes a comparison between two things in a less direct manner by using the words "like" or "as."


a poem that details an individual's face or body in great detail, either in praise, blame, or scorn. This is often achieved through the use of metaphors or similes.


the writer gives human qualities to non-human forces or objects.

Petrarchan Lover

Love is a transcendent (beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience) experience.

He suffers from unrequited love. He loved from afar and usually the object of his love does not know that he is in love with her.

He tends to idealize his beloved. To him she is the epitome of perfection, rather than a normal human being with strengths and weaknesses. He is not in love with her, he is in love with the idea of her.

He also idolizes his beloved. To him, she is an object of worship. She is a goddess and he is her lowly servant, who worships her from afar.

His love for her is not real love, but merely infatuation.


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The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Shorter 5th Edition. Ed. Margaret Ferguson. Norton: New York, 2005. 1266-8.

"Sonnet." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. 2016. Web 10 April 2016. .

"The Sonnet." Poets.org. 1 Mar 2016. 10 Apr 2016.

Wikipedia contributors. "Sonnet." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Oct. 2017. Web. 17 Oct. 2017.