Studying Sonnets

Studying Sonnets

Name: ______World Literature

Literature of the Middle Ages Sonnets

Before reading:

p. 678-679

1.  What is the difficulty level of writing a sonnet?

2.  What is “Petrarchan conceit”?

3.  Why did English writers create their own form of the sonnet?

4.  Review the following definitions: octave, sestet, volta, quatrain, couplet, iambic pentameter

5.  How is love represented in today’s culture? Do you think we tend to idealize love (think fairy tales/happily ever after/love fixes everything mindset), or is our view of love more practical (it’s not always perfect, or romantic, but it’s a good thing)—or even sarcastic or cynical (Love? Love doesn’t exist!)?

During Reading:

p. 682—Sonnet 61—Francesco Petrarch

6.  Where does the sestet of the sonnet begin? (give a specific line number)

7.  What metaphors does the speaker use to describe his state of mind? Find 2 examples.

8.  What is the most important word in this sonnet—how does Petrarch emphasize this word?

Sonnet 130

by William Shakespeare

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white, 5

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound; 10

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.

9.  What general statement does the speaker seem to be making about his love in lines 1-12?

10.  What is the insight revealed in the final couplet? (lines 13-14)

11.  What words seem to have strong connotations in describing the speaker’s mistress in the sonnet?

After reading:

12. How are the two sonnets you have read alike? How are they different?

13. Which of the two sonnets do you like the best? Why? Explain your choice in one well-developed paragraph.