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Difference Between English Sonnet and Italian Sonnet

English Sonnet vs Italian Sonnet

Poetry is a literary art form that uses language and speech together with other media such as drama, songs, comedy, and rhetoric. It was used in ancient times to aid in the transmission of stories and a people’s history from one generation to another.

Modern poetry has three genres, namely; the epic, comic, and the tragic. It also has several forms such as; the Chinese Jintishi, French Rondeau, Japanese Tanka and Haiku, Arabic and Persian Ruba’I, Korean Sijo, Greek Ode, Italian Canzone, and the Sonnet among others.

The sonnet is the most common form of poetry. It has fourteen lines with the first four lines introducing the topic which are usually about topics of love. It has a set meter and a distinct rhyme scheme. It has many types and forms, two very common forms are the English sonnet and Italian sonnet.
The English sonnet was first introduced in the early 16th century. It is composed of 14 lines in 3 quatrains and a couplet. Shakespeare is the most famous author of sonnets using it in his works such as the prologue to “Romeo and Juliet.”

The Italian sonnet, on the other hand, was created in the early 11th century. Petrarca and Michaelangelo were two of the most famous Italian sonnet writers. The Italian sonnet has two parts characterized by an argument wherein the octet (first part) describes a problem and has eight lines; and the sestet (second part) proposes a resolution and has six lines.
The volta or turn can be found in the ninth line which is marked by a change of tone, mood, and stance. In the English sonnet, the volta or turn can be found in the third quatrain with the exception of Shakespeare’s sonnet wherein the volta is found in the couplet.
The Italian sonnet is written in the iambic pentameter which has ten syllables in a weak-strong pattern. The first line rhymes with the fourth, fifth, and eighth lines and the second line rhymes with the third, sixth, and seventh lines.The English sonnet also uses the iambic pentameter but also uses other meters.


1.The Italian sonnet is known as the Petrarchan sonnet while the English sonnet is known as a Shakespearian sonnet. 2.These two writers were not the creators of these forms of sonnet but were the most famous sonnet writers of their time.
3.The Italian sonnet has two parts, the octet which consists of lines describing a problem and the sestet which consists of lines proposing solutions to the problem while the English sonnet has three quatrains and a couplet.
4.In the English sonnet, the volta or turn is found in the third quatrain while in the Italian sonnet the volta or turn is found in the ninth line.
5.The Italian sonnet was created in the early 11th century while the English sonnet was created in the early 16th century.
6.All sonnets have fourteen lines. The English sonnet differs from the Italian sonnet in the structuring of these lines.

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