Sonnets - introduction

Sonnets and War poems
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Slide 1: Slide
EngelsMiddelbare schoolhavoLeerjaar 5

This lesson contains 11 slides, with interactive quizzes and text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 50 min

Items in this lesson

Sonnets and War poems

Slide 1 - Slide

What is a sonnet? Can you describe some of its characteristics?

Slide 2 - Open question

  • Sonetto, Italian for "little song" or "little sound"
  • Lyrical poem of 14 lines 
  • Sonnet is used to express personal feelings and emotions or investigate a problem, conflict, desire, etc.
  • Specific rhyming pattern (e.g. abba-abba)
  • Specific meter (stressed versus unstressed syllables) 
  • Sonnets contain a volta = a moment in the sonnet where the rhyming scheme changes, as well as the subject matter 

Slide 3 - Slide

Petrarchan Sonnet
  • Named after Francesco  Petrarca (1304-1374)
  • Also referred to as the Italian Sonnet
  • 14 lines of the poem are divided as such:
    Octave (8 lines): abba-abba
    Sestet (6 lines): cde-cde OR cd-cd-cd
  • Octave's purpose is to introduce a problem, desire, wish, etc and the sestet delivers the conlusion or an idea is first introduced and then contrasted.
  • Sestet introduces the volta, signalled by change in rhyme 

Slide 4 - Slide

Shakespearean Sonnet
  • Popularized by Shakespeare (1564-1616), even though he did not invent it.
  • 14 lines of the poem are divided as such:
    Three quatrains (4 lines):  abab, cdcd, efef
    One couplet (2 lines): gg 
  • The quatrains introduce the problem/theme and explore it
  • The volta is found in the couplet, which resolves the theme

Slide 5 - Slide

Shakespearian Sonnet (ctd.)
  • Sonnet's meter is predominantly an iambic pentameter.
  • Each line consists of 10 syllables in total
  • Syllables are divided into 5 pairs, called iambs / iambic feet.
  • An iamb is one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
    When I / do COUNT / the CLOCK / that TELLS / the TIME (sonnet 12)

Slide 6 - Slide

Three WWI poems
The Soldier: Rupert Brooke
Dulce et Decorum: Wilfred Owen
Does it matter: Siegfried Sassoon

Slide 7 - Slide


Each group examines one poem and answers the following questions:
1. Is the poem a sonnet? (How do you know?)
2. What is the poem about?  (Summarize the content)
3. What is the tone of the poem and how can you tell? (optimistic, pessimistic, sarcastic, ironic etc.)


Slide 8 - Slide

Answers: The Soldier

Slide 9 - Open question

Answers: Dulce et Decorum

Slide 10 - Open question

Answers: Does it matter?

Slide 11 - Open question