rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet

2017grad 6 Rep.

Can someone help me understand the rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter of a Shakespearean sonnet?

2017grad asked
EnglishTeacher1 251 Rep.


Alright, before we begin, let’s define a few terms to help you understand.

rhyme scheme- a consistent pattern of rhyme throughout a poem

iambic pentameter- It can be described as a line consists of ten syllables, where the first syllable is stressed, the second is unstressed, the third is stressed and so on until it reaches the 10th line syllable.

Shakespearean sonnet- In poetry, a sonnet has 14 fourteen lines and is written in iambic pentameter. Each line has 10 syllables. It has a specific rhyme scheme and a “volta” or a specific turn. Shakespearean sonnets always consist of 3 quatrains and 1 couplet.

quatrain- a 4 line stanza in a poem

couplet- 2 consecutive lines of verse with end rhyme

So, Shakespearean sonnets ALWAYS have the same rhyme scheme, with the rhyming sound being at the end of each line. To mark the rhyme scheme, you give the same letter of the alphabet to each matching rhyme or similar sound. It goes like this:

First quatrain: ABAB

Second quatrain: CDCD

Third quatrain: EFEF

Couplet: GG

Additionally, the lines of a sonnet include iambic pentameter (refer to definition above). To mark for iambic pentameter, start by counting the syllables in each line as they are read aloud. It helps to clap or tap the beat. Each line of a sonnet has 10 syllables, so it includes 2 iambic pentameters.

As you can see, a Shakespearean sonnet is highly mathematical as well as poetic!

EnglishTeacher1 answered