How to Write a Shakespearean Sonnet?

Updated: January 19, 2023
A Shakespearean sonnet is a fourteen-line poem that is written in iambic pentameter and follows a specific rhyme scheme. The first twelve lines are divided into three quatrains, each with its own rhyme scheme, and the final two lines are a rhyming couplet.
Detailed answer:

The first thing to understand about Shakespeare’s sonnet is that it’s not just a poem. It’s a collection of poems. In fact, there are 154 sonnets in the collection. The second thing to remember is that these aren’t simple love poems — they’re complex, nuanced works of art that explore some of the most important themes in literature: time, love, and mortality.

A Shakespearean sonnet is a 14-line poem in iambic pentameter. The first 12 lines of a Shakespearean sonnet are divided into three quatrains and two couplets. A quatrain has four iambic feet per line (some examples include: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” or “When forty winters shall besiege thy brow”). Each couplet has two iambic feet per line (examples include: “If thy soul checks thee that I come so near” or “That you were once unkind befriends me now”).

Each quatrain has its own rhyme scheme — ABAB or ABBA — but the couplet always rhymes.

The sonnets were published in 1609, in a collection titled “Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” The first 126 sonnets were published without attribution; it was not until 1640 that Francis Meres mentioned Shakespeare as the author of the collection.

How to Write a Shakespearean Sonnet?. (2023, Jan 19). Retrieved from