English sonnet (Shakespearean sonnet)

The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018

English sonnet (Shakespearean sonnet)

English sonnet (Shakespearean sonnet): A fourteen-line sonnet consisting of three quatrains with the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef, followed by a couplet rhyming gg. The Spenserian sonnet, developed by English poet Edmund Spenser, follows the same basic stanzaic form — three quatrains followed by a couplet — but links the quatrains together by its rhyme scheme: abab bcbc cdcd ee.

EXAMPLE: In Sonnet 118 (1609), William Shakespeare approximated the standard rhyme scheme by using eye rhyme (love / remove, proved / loved) and half rhyme (come / doom):

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

Oh, no! It is an ever-fixèd mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.