Sonnet is a poem form. The Sonnet is a fourteen-line poem consisting of two four-line and two three-line verses. The quartets are called quartets and the three-string terzets. The sonnet is characterized by the use of alternating (alternating uplifting and lowering) gauges, usually using the jambus. The rhyme scheme varies. An embracing rhyme is typical of the quartet, whereas the third note usually follows the pattern cdc / dcd, cde / cde and ccd / eed. There are, however, innumerable varieties of the sonnet (cf. Literaturepochen).
The term refers to the Italian origin of the poem form. The sonnet originates from the Latin verb sonare, which means sound or sound, as well as the noun sonus, which can be translated with sound or sound. In Italian, the sonnetto poem is called, on which the German concept goes back.

The poem, in translation, is also known in German as a sounding or sound poem, which was used primarily in the original form to express inner feelings and transport them. It originated in the first half of the 13th century in Italy from the freier sonet, which was more extensive and had a less strict construction. Let’s look at an example:


We are more or less gantz, yes more the gantz verheret!
The cheeky völcker schaar, the furious trombone
The bloody fat heavens, the thundering carthair
Had all the trouble, and the labors, and the food, were consumed.
The towers are in gluttons, the church is vkgegehret.
The Rahthaus ligt im gruung, which are sternhawn,
The maidservants are desecrated, and where we only looked,
Is less, pest, and dead, the hertz vndt spirit.

Here through the schantz vnd city rint al time fresh blood.
Dreymall has already been six years, when our flotilla,
From so many bodies were heavy, slowly penetrated.

But I still keep silent about what is worse than the dead,
What grimmer the pest vndt glutt vndt hungers noth,
That now the selenium treasured so many.

The above example, which bears the title Tears of the Fatherland, is by Andreas Gryphius, a German writer of the Baroque. It consists of four verses, divided into two quartets (four lines) as well as two terzets (three lines). The poem follows in the first two verses the rhyme scheme ABBA, which are hugging rhymes. The terzets follow the pattern CCD and EED, which means that they are hovering.

Furthermore, the unaccented as well as stressed syllables alternate in the poem (alternating) and can be identified as a continuous yambus (verse of two syllables, unstressed, stressed). Since six lines (pronounced syllables) can be identified in each line, we are dealing with a six-lobed yambus. It is striking that the first syllables are unstressed, followed by a pronounced syllable, then again an unaccented, etc.

The last syllables of the lines are, however, different. Verses 1, 4, 5, 8, 11 and 13 end unstressed, while the other lines emphasize. Starting from the fact that in the poem, however, there are always jambs, which are known to consist of two syllables, the verses, if they begin at the same time, but also end with equal numbers, and thus consist of an even number of syllables.

For a sonnet of the baroque, the only decisive factor is that there are six levitations per verse line, which are realized by the jambus. Thus, at the end of a line of verse, there may be another, but unaccented, syllable. The sonnets of the Baroque, therefore, have syllables on either line 12 or 13, the 12th syllable always emphasizing, the 13th is always unstressed. When such a verse is emphasized, if one speaks of a male cadence, it ends unstressed, by a female. The cadences are therefore variable in the sonnet.

That is, the above example of Gryphius is a sonnet, because it consists of fourteen verses, divided into two quartets and two terzets, which has an alternating sequence of unstressed as well as stressed syllables, which are iambic and have different cadences, with both quartets the Reimschema ABBA, the Terzette followed the pattern CCD, EED. But that there are six strophes per verse, whereby the verses are called Alexandrians, is a peculiarity of the baroque, and not in every sonnet.

Forms and structure of the sonnet
As already written, the sonnet has a firm structure and therefore also has very clear characteristics that can be identified. However, in the individual epochs as well as regions there are different manifestations and peculiarities of the sonnet seal, which only differ in individual details. The following is an overview summarizing the main aspects.

The classical Italian sonnet, which certainly forms the basis for all further expressions, also consisted of four verses, with two quartets serving as an entrance, followed by two terzets. The stanzas, however, are formed from eleven silver, the so-called Endecasillabi. In this measure the emphasis is always on the tenth syllable. However, as most Italian words are unstressed, the verses of the Italian sonnet usually have 11 syllables and a female cadenza.

O diletti d’amor dubbi e fugaci
O speranza che s’alza e cade spesso,
E nasce e more in un momento istesso;
O poca fede, o poco lunghe paci!
Note: two vowels that follow one another are grinded and spoken as dipthong. Each verse thus contains only 11 syllables in the preceding example. The finishes are color-coded.
The above example is taken from a sonnet by Gaspara Stampa, an Italian poet of the 16th century. This is the first quartet of the Sonnet. Obviously, each line consists of 11 syllables, ending unstressed, with the verse being alternately alternating. It is therefore a typical Italian sonnet of that time, which fulfills the external characteristics.

This original form of the poem was taken over into Spanish and Portuguese with all its peculiarities. Furthermore, there were attempts to translate this structure into German. In this case, five-legged jambs were chosen so that the initial sonnets in German usually had ten or eleven syllables, and, as did the example, were characterized by five lifts.

In Germany in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Martin Opitz, a poet of the Baroque, declared the Alexandrian to the essential measure of German poetry, which was also the preferred measure of French tragedy. It is therefore hardly surprising that the sonnet was transmitted in a very short form, and consequently most of the German sonnets are oriented towards this form.

This means that the typical German sonnet in the Baroque has exactly six – and not five – movements, which is why it has either 12 or 13 syllables. Furthermore, the Alexandrian is characterized by a caesura between third and fourth verses. Now an example that makes this structure clear.

You’ll see where you look only vanity on earth.
What builds this today tears that tomorrow:
Where cities are now standing will be a meadow
On which a shepherd ‘s child will play with the herds.
The example is the first quartet of the sonnet It is all vain, which also comes from the baroque poet Andreas Gryphius. The outer features of the form have already been described, which is why they remain uncommented. Decisive is the caesura, which stands after the third verse and before the fourth verse. A verse is here a complete yambus, that is, the sequence of an unstressed and a stressed syllable.

Such a caesura is characteristic of the Alexandrian, and so is the baroque sonnet. The caesura denotes a metric incision, which is perceived as a brief pause during reading. As a result, the individual lines in the middle are split metrically. Whoever reads the poem once loudly and clearly will notice that, after seeing, building, standing and making a clear speech pause.

On the one hand, this is only a formal feature, which could be mentioned in a poem analysis. On the other hand, the caesura in the sonnet is usually a function in content. It is, as a rule, between two opposites, that is, antitheses. We will discuss this in more detail in the section on the content structure of the sonnet.

In England too, the sonnet quickly became a popular poem. But here, too, the original Italian form was changed. Thus, not two quartets formed the entry, but three terzets, which were concluded by a two-line, the so-called heroic couplet. The five-strong Yubus determined the English sonnets, with the verses ending in a female or male cadenza.

Later, in Germany, at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century, the ideal form of a sonnet was no longer the Alexandrian verse, but also the jambian peloton, although the number of quarters and terzets remained. Moreover, it is generally true of the German lyric that the Alexandrian, at least since the storm and the urge, has been displaced by the more flexible blank verse.

Although the number of lifts in the different languages ​​and epochs changed completely, the rhyme scheme in the sonnet remained the same in all variants. The quartets were typically written in embracing rhymes, and the tranzets were often given in the scheme cdc / dcd; cde / cde and ccd / eed.

The structure of the sonnet
As indicated in the previous section, most of the sonnets follow a logical logic, irrespective of their formal structure. This is reflected in the German, baroque sonnet in the verses, whereby in the Italian sonnet quite a content is communicated about the verses.

In Italian sonnets the following structure is often found: the first quartet contains a thesis (assertion), which stands in the second quartet an antithesis. This can be a contradiction in content or a kind of counter-claim. A synthesis, ie, a result, is then formed in the thirds. Sometimes the thesis is also in the quartet, the antithesis in the terzets.

In the German copy, which was determined by the Alexandrian, such a contradiction is often found within the lines of verse, the individual pages being separated by the caesura. This means that up to the third uplift in the verse a statement is made, which is then revised, that is, lifted, or which is somewhat opposed. Let’s look again at the quartet of Gryphius:

You’ll see where you look only vanity on earth.
What builds this today tears that tomorrow:
Where cities are now standing will be a meadow
On which a shepherd ‘s child will play with the herds.
This example has already been presented. This time, however, it will be about the content aspects. Especially in the second and third verses the antithetical structure becomes clear. Thus it is said before the caesura of the second line that someone builds something today, whereupon, after the caesura, it is pointed out that it is already accomplished tomorrow. The third line is similar, with cities and meadows facing each other.

These doctrines are often found in Alexandrian verses, and as they determine the sonnet of the baroque, as well as for this poem form. Another example in which the contrasting pair almost turn into paradoxes (apparent contradictions) is found in Angelus Silesius, a lyricist and theologian of the Baroque. The following lines are taken from his book Der cherubinische Wandersmann.

Bloom on, Frozen Christian, | the May is at the door:
You will die forever you do not flourish now and here.
Tenzone and Sonnetkranz
Sonnets have often been pooled in poem cycles. These larger cycles can represent a kind of dispute between several authors, or be dedicated to a specific theme. The typical representatives are the Tenzones and the Sonnetkranz.

Tenzone: A dispute between two poets (cf. dispute, controversy), which is often conducted over a longer period of time. The strict form of the Tenzone provides that the rhyme endings of the sonnet, which is answered, are picked up. Tenzons can be quite polemical.
Sonnetkranz: A sonnetkranz consists altogether of 15 sonnets (14 single sonnet, 1 master sonnet). Each sonnet uses the ending line of the previous one as the first verse. From the final verses of all 14 sonnets the master’s note is formed, however, in unchanged order.

Other sonnet examples
In the present study, some sonnets have already been investigated and presented as examples. However, the sonnet seal is enormously diverse, which is why such a contribution can only represent a small section. Nevertheless, we would like to gather selected sonnet examples from different epochs and regions. Folding the Examples When Clicking.

Nature and Art, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
To Gladys, Ernst Blass
In the mad delusion I had once abandoned you, Heinrich Heine
Her heart is frozen, Georg Rudolf Weckherlin
Spring has come, Rainer Maria Rilke
She forgot, Clemens Brentano
A wonderland has been raised, Joseph von Eichendorff
At the forest, Eduard Mörike
Short overview: The sonnet at a glance
Sonnet is a poem form that has its origins in Italy of the 13th century. The sonnet is distinguished by a clear structure, even if there are numerous variants of the poem form. Due to the fact that the outer characteristics of the sonnet are mostly constant, the sonnet can be easily recognized.
The poem style is divided into two quartets (four lines), followed by two terzets (three stringers). The verses of the verses are Iambian alternating and are distinguished by six movements. Thus, each verse line 12 or 13 may have syllables ending either in a male or female cadence. The original Italian form had 10 or 11 syllables per line.
The rhyme scheme of the quartet is usually followed by the pattern of the embracing rhyme (abba), whereas the triads usually follow the scheme cdc / dcd, cde / cde and ccd / eed. Variants are, however, possible, since the reim scheme of the terzette is not binding.
In the German Baroque it was customary to write the Sonnet throughout Alexandre. The Alexandrian is a Jambian verse, distinguished by six strokes. After the third elevation there is a caesura. This caesura is very often a turning point in the Alexandrian era. Thus, within a verse, contradictions often contradict each other, ie contradictory statements (antitheses).
Very often, sonnets deal with a theme, which is examined from several perspectives. In the first stanza, a statement is made or even a thought is taken up. In the second stanza, this assertion is disregarded, or a contrasting experience is described. The result of this comparison of the contents is then made in the third-octave to a result or a final statement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *