AP Poetry Terms 7-Structure: Closed Form and Open Form

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Last updated: November 30, 2019

sonnet
a fourteenline poem usually written in iambic pentameter

closed
a poem that is strictly constrained by its own structure

fixed form
referring to the structure of a poem’s lines and groupings

Shakespearean sonnet
consists of three quatrains with the rhyme pattern “abab,” cdcd,” “efef” followed by a couplet with the pattern “gg”

English sonnet
consists of three quatrains with the rhyme pattern “abab,” cdcd,” “efef” followed by a couplet with the pattern “gg”

quatrain
four-line sections

couplet
pair of rhymed lines

open (free forms)
poets capitalize on the freedom either to create their own forms or to use the traditional fixed forms in more flexible ways

Petrarchan sonnet
a poem that falls into two parts: an octave of eight lines and a sestet of six; the octave rhyme pattern is “abba abba” (two sets of four lines); the sestet’s lines are more variable: “cde cde”; or “ced ced”; or “cd cd cd”.

Italian sonnet
a poem that falls into two parts: an octave of eight lines and a sestet of six; the octave rhyme pattern is “abba abba” (two sets of four lines); the sestet’s lines are more variable: “cde cde”; or “ced ced”; or “cd cd cd”.

octave
an eight-line unit, which may constitute a stanza or a section of a poem

sestet
a six-line unit of verse constituting a stanza or section of a poem

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