Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sonnet

Master Isolated Images
S is for sonnet. Today, we are going to learn about Shakespearian style sonnets. I've also invited local poet and writer, Linda J. Pedley who I know through the Writers Guild of Alberta. She is going to tell us a little bit about her own poetry process and share one of her wonderful sonnets. Thanks Linda!

What is a sonnet? 
A sonnet consists of 14 lines written in iambic pentameter (see below). There aren't any breaks in between the quatrains (consisting of four lines) or the couplet at the end. Basically, what you want to do is come up with a subject. Present that subject in the first section of the sonnet. Build on the situation like you would in a story and come to a conclusion.  Sonnets don't have to be complicated (see below for link on how to write a sonnet for beginners). 

A - This rhymes with A above.  
B - This rhymes with B above. 




A sonnet is sort of an argument. According to this how the Shakespearian sonnet is broken down: 
  • First quatrain: An exposition of the main theme and main metaphor.
  • Second quatrain: Theme and metaphor extended or complicated; often, some imaginative example is given.
  • Third quatrain: Peripeteia (a twist or conflict), often introduced by a "but" (very often leading off the ninth line).
  • Couplet: Summarizes and leaves the reader with a new, concluding image.
Now over to Linda 
Why do you write poetry?
Poetry is comprised of words that come directly from my soul and I write poetry because of my desire to share this inner passion. It is written from a connection to a deep feeling, an overwhelming emotion, or a need to express an intimate longing or desire. 

What kind of poetry do you write? 
I used to highly favor verse with measured meter and rhyme – old school, perhaps, but it goes back to my favorites while growing up, tried and true. Now, I try many types of poetry in order to truly experience the genre. I’ve written haiku, limerick, sonnet, song, free/open verse, and rhyming stanzas; long odes, and short whimsical lines; I’ve even written poems within poems… ones that you can read one way or another and you will have a poem that makes sense. Preference is to a piece, any style that creates an image using the sound of the words and how they relate to one another to inspire emotion.

What inspires you to write poetry? 
A sound; a word; a line; an emotion; an overwhelming feeling of joy/sadness/anger… I would say I can be inspired in any and in every way. I’ve even used writing prompts to write poetry because they inspire a desire to do so… it will hit me all of a sudden and sometimes, very quickly, a poem can appear.

Who is your favourite poet? Why
I can narrow it down to two – Robert Frost, and of course, William Shakespeare.

Frost because he is an icon from my childhood inspired by teachers who were mentors… his traditional way of writing poetry spoke to me; many of his words still resonate with me, as I have “taken the road less travelled” more oft’ than not, and still have “miles to go before I sleep.” Shakespeare, well, therein lies a connection deep-rooted and hard to explain. I am transcended to another time and place with his words and feel his influence as a muse of sorts in my own writing. 

Do you have a favourite poem? 
There are lines from many favorites and others I chance upon and feel them in the moment. There are words that stay with me like “she walks in beauty like the night” or those I have already quoted by Robert Frost. Some of my close writing friends have written poetry that will always be favorites I’ll hold dear in my heart, but will most likely be unknown to most. My favorite would be William’s sonnets.
Why? “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…” who could not love the romantic image his words portray.

A piece of advice you would like to share with your fellow poets? 
Be true to your own creative spirit. By this I mean, don’t let anyone change you or your vision for your words. No one should try to change you – if they truly want to encourage you, they should help guide you to find your own voice through example, suggestion, and mentorship. I have a poet friend who was discouraged from writing rhyming poetry because he was told it was not “in” … his poetry spoke from his heart and I suggested he do what he felt was natural to him. Although it is good to experiment and experience new forms in order to grow and learn, it is necessary to make changes for the right reasons and always follow your heart.

Recent publications or accomplishments?
Some of my poetry has been published in various formats including newspaper, magazine, online, blogs, and anthologies – I have several manuscripts awaiting my attention and I expect to get them published in the near future. Although they are important to me and I want to share my poetic words, other things have taken precedence. The sonnet in this interview will be included in my upcoming novel “An Elizabethan Affair” which I hope to publish sometime this year. 

Here is Linda's sonnet. 

Secret Lover (Sonnet III)

A secret lover cloaked in midnight veil
Despite her years and what she’s come to know
Slips silent to his bed where dreams prevail
Driven like the April spring-tide snow.
Two lay as one and other worlds stand still
The future but a heartbeat’s breath away
Moments lost in moments of free will
Done deeds and memory left to yesterday.
That which affects her deep infects as ill
And in her mind she knows the story wrong
Yet that which blinds her eye a curing pill
Heeding naught save words to lover’s song.
But if a plea to judge she were to ask
Put not logic but discerning heart to task

--Try your hand at writing a sonnet (you can be funny if you want).  Or
--Using the 14 line structure above write a poem. 

You can use the picture above or the word "season" as a prompt for your poem. 

-Shakespeare Sonnets: For the beginner click here

If you liked this post please let others know. Tomorrow, I will post all the poems I wrote this week and offer a couple of tips for revising your poems. On Monday, Twitter poetry. I hope you come back for that. 

Linda J. Pedley lives, works, volunteers, and writes in Sherwood Park, Alberta, located just east of Edmonton where she was born. Her writing life involves so much more than poetry, but she will always claim poetry to be her first love. She remembers fondly teachers who encouraged her love for writing and creativity; appreciates the continued support she receives from her friends and family; and with all that she does, knows that her journey is on the “write path.” Her recent venture into publishing not only keeps her connected with her own dream, but caters to the writing dreams of others – that of being a published author. You can learn more about Linda by visiting her blog or


  1. Beautiful sonnet, Linda!! There's no way I could write anything like that! Rena, I appreciate your offer to use humor - phew!! I'm glad it's a Saturday so I'll have more to work on it.

    1. Thanks Lori. I'm just starting on mine now.

  2. I always wondered about the difference between a sonnet and a poem. Blog on!

  3. Linda, this sonnet is beautiful! I am excited about your upcomng project that will include this sonnet. I've always loved sonnets. Even when I had no idea that was the name of that type of poetry. What a wonderful post, Rena! I also loved Robert Frost as a child and often quote lines from his work. This post bought back a lof of memories. Good stuff here, ladies. I thank you!

  4. Hi, Beautiful sonnet! My first knowledge of sonnets was Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?" I really enjoy reading them. never tried to write one... I might just do that some day. Thanks for all the instruction in how to compose one. Best regards to you. Ruby aka Grammy

    1. Thanks. I hope you do try writing a sonnet.

  5. Hard. Hard and more hard! But fun to try. Thanks so much Rena and Linda for the lesson and great advice.

    Here is mine:

    Sick of Bananas

    My monkey family ate banana meals.
    We hated having no or little pick.
    Banana breakfast, lunch and dinner feels,
    Like boring, yucky, mushy, gooey, ick!

    We tried thinking up some things,
    For earning treats like gum and crackerjacks.
    The streets offered change for trying to sing.
    They gave us peanuts working circus acts.

    But happy came in dough, even in rolls.
    I joined zoos because they’d paid some money,
    For cheering up the sad and lonely souls,
    And monkey comics telling jokes is funny.

    Though, “laughs” I did not hear from stage,
    Tomatoes pitched fast became my wage.

  6. I have to admit, I was kind of mad at you today, Rena, for making me write a sonnet - of all things! I didn't think I could do it but I'm really happy with how it turned out - so thanks for the push!!

  7. My Day 19-Sonnet


Thanks for your comments. Remember to keep them kid friendly.