Directions: Copy the notes on the Italian sonnet onto your notes page. Read the notes so you understand the difference between the Shakespearean and Italian sonnets. 

 Petrarchan (Italian) Sonnet:

The Italian sonnet (sonnet means "little song") is a 14 line lyric poem written in iambic pentameter.  It has a different rhyme scheme than the English sonnet because it is easier to find rhymes in the Italian language.

The rhyme scheme for the Italian sonnet is:

ABBAABBA = 1st 8 lines are called an octave.

CDECDE = next 6 lines are called a sestet. (A poet may use any variation of these last 6 rhymes, so they may use CDCDEE, or CCDDEE, etc.)

The octave (1st 8 line of the poem) normally presents a situation or a problem.

The sestet (next 6 lines of the poem) presents a solution or a reaction to the situation.


Puritan Sonnet

Elinor Wylie

Down to the Puritan Marrow of my bones

There's something in this richness that I hate.

I love the look, austere, immaculate,

Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.

There's something in my very blood that owns

Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,

A thread of water, churned to milky spate1

Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.


I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,

Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meager sheaves;

That spring, briefer than apple blossom's breath,

Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,

Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,

And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.


1. spate: sudden downpour