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English Sonnets. The Renaissance – Tudor Period. Petrarch Sonnets. Francesco Petrarca – Italian poet and scholar , often referred to as the “Father of Humanism” Petrarch’s sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance. Elements of Petrarch Sonnets.

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English sonnets

English Sonnets

The Renaissance – Tudor Period

Petrarch sonnets
Petrarch Sonnets

  • Francesco Petrarca – Italian poet and scholar , often referred to as the “Father of Humanism”

  • Petrarch’s sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance

Elements of petrarch sonnets
Elements of Petrarch Sonnets

  • 14 line poem written in iambic pentameter – the meter consists of 10 syllables, paired by alternating stresses of five iambic feet. An iambic foot – contains two syllables, the first unstressed and the second stressed

  • First 8 lines’ rhyme (abbaabba) = octave representing a problem, raising a question, or poses a possibility

  • Next 6 lines’ rhyme (cddcdc) = sestet in which the problem is solved, answered, or fulfilled

Elements of petrarch sonnets1
Elements of Petrarch Sonnets

  • Theme and attitude inspired by beauty and chivalry

  • Uses conceits or elaborate comparisons to describe the beauty of a girl. Ex: The lady’s eyes are like stars or suns in the sky

Sir thomas wyatt
Sir Thomas Wyatt

  • Accomplished linguist, musician, and poet

  • Member of the royal court and was knighted in 1536

  • Trip to Italy in 1527 exposed him to the love poetry of Petrarch. Upon return to England, Wyatt began writing English imitations of Petrarchan sonnets

Henry howard earl of surrey
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

  • Member of the royal court but of higher status than Wyatt. He was cousin to Catherine, the fifth wife of Henry VIII

  • Overly prideful and executed for treason at 30 years-old

Henry howard earl of surrey1
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

  • As a poet, Surrey was a lover of Petrarchan poetry; however, his love poems were more like artificial literary exercises than deep expressions of the mind or heart

  • Three important achievements:

    • smoothed the English meter – pronunciation changes made it difficult to fit into the pentameter structure

    • improvised the English sonnet – Surrey devised a three-part structure for the sonnet, the most widely used sonnet form in Elizabethan England. It requires fewer line repetitions than the Italian (ababcdcdefefgg)

    • invented blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) – enabled English Renaissance poets (Milton and Shakespeare) to create a national literature that would rival the literature of continental Europe

William shakespeare
William Shakespeare

  • Sonnets are in the English form (ababcdcdefefgg)

  • The quatrains express units of thought and the couplet completes the thought and relates it to the main themes