Shakespearean Sonnets

Shakespearean Sonnets are mostly written in Iambic Pentameter, also used in his plays.
Iamb (foot) is a part of a metrical line made up of two syllables, the first is unstressed and followed by the stressed one.

Iamb represents a heartbeat and is usually written as:
da DUM or baBOOM

Pentameter consists of five Iambs; it is called Iambic Pentameter and it is written as:

da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM
baBOOM / baBOOM / baBOOM / baBOOM / baBOOM

Compare with Shakespeare's Sonnet 29:

When IN / dis GRACE / with FOR / tune AND / men’s EYES
I ALL / a LONE / be WEEP / my OUT/ cast STATE

Shakespeare's Sonnet consists of 14 lines divided into three quatrains (each of four lines) and ends with a couplet (of two lines). 
The rhyme of a sonnet can be written as: 
abab cdcd efef gg 

Reading Shakespeare's sonnets should begin with checking words in an etymological dictionary, then we are ready to find the main theme (not just love) and motifs of a sonnet. Next, try to find out how the language techniques are used to convey the meaning in a sonnet. And do not panic, enjoy Shakespeare!


When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate, 
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, 
With what I most enjoy contented least; 
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 

You may find useful comparing your thoughts and analyses with some examples: Shakespeare online or Spark Notes. Happy reading!


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