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Poetry/Cannot identify the type of the sonnet


Hello, Linda!

I am trying to identify the type of this sonnet(for my university course), it is either Shakespearian or Petrarchan sonnet. Here it is:

The sonnet is a diamond flashing round
From every facet true rare coloured lights;
A gem of thought carved in poetic nights
To grace the brow of art by fancy crowned;
A miniature of soul wherein are found
Marvels of beauty and resplendent sights;
A drop of blood with which a lover writes
His heart's sad epitaph in its own bound;
A pearl gained from dark waters when the deep
Rocked in its frenzied passion; the last note
Heard from a heaven-saluting skylark's throat;
A cascade small flung in a canyon steep
With crystal music. At this shrine of song
High priests of poesy have worshipped long.
(by Edward Burrough Brownlow)

I have a form like this: abba abba cddc ee
At first it looks like a Petrarchan sonnet because of the form of the octave abba abba, but at the end of the sonnet it has ee... I can't manage. Please, I need your help.

Thanks in advance!
Best regards from Moscow.

Dear Olga,

The Brownlow sonnet is a Shakespearean sonnet.  However, it does deviate from the traditional  Shakespearean sonnet by changing the rime scheme in the first two quatrains from abab cdcd to abba abba and then replacing the third quatrain efef with cddc.  It then concludes with the couplet ee.

The Petrarchan sonnet has an octave and a sestet and moving from the octave to the sestet there is a volta or turn, or change in purpose.  The octave sets up a proposition and the sestet resolves it.  Brownlow's sonnet does not contain a volta; its three quatrains are all devoted to describing the sonnet, and the couplet provides the summation.

It is only part of the rime scheme that resembles the Petrarchan sonnet.  At first, it might seem that the first two quatrains are an octave and the third quatrain and the couplet are the sestet.  But the absence of the volta eliminates its classification as Petrarchan.  The movements of the poem place it squarely in the Shakespearean style.

Hope this helps.


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Linda Sue Grimes -- Classic Poetry Aide


Please be aware that my field of expertise is "Classic Poetry." I do not study and write about Hallmark-Card type verse, doggerel, or pornographic versification.

I assist students/readers in understanding the poems most widely studied in high school and college English classes, for example, Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death," A. E. Housman's "Loveliest of trees," Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," W. B. Yeats' "The Second Coming," Rabindranath Tagore's "The Journey," Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," Dana Gioia’s "Words." I direct students/readers to online poetry analyses and/or research sources.

I do not dispense advice on creative writing issues, such as critiquing poems or offering ideas for poems.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject:

Poetry is not so difficult . . . but the claim that "a poem can mean anything you want it to mean" is absurd . . . while there may be room for interpretation, poems are not like clay that you can shape into anything your choose . . . poets express feelings, thoughts, experience . . . the notion that anything a poet writes is as malleable as a piece of modeling clay is insulting and demonstrates ignorance of what poetry, nay language itself, is all about . . . language--including poetry and all other art forms--is about communication . . . if you denigrate "meaning" as a component of poetry, you fail to communicate . . . failure to communicate begins with the lazy mind . . .


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1967 Miami University, B.A. Major in German

1971 Ball State University M.A. German/English

1984 Ball State University M.A. English

1987 Ball state University Ph.D. American, British, World Literature, Rhetoric and Composition

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