Unit 2: Sonnets and Poems

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Last updated: December 2, 2019

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The change in tone in a sonnet or poem.

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Iambic Pentameter
Preferred by William Shakespeare because of its similarity to common speech.Sonnets in this form are made up of 14 lines with three quatrains (four-line units), where the problem is resolved in the couplet at the end of the piece.

Spenserian Sonnet
A sonnet form based on an intricate pattern of rhymes

Italian Sonnet
A sonnet of 14 lines with 10 syllables in each.

Edmund Spenser
Major works of his are “The Shepheardes Calendar” and “The Faerie Queene.” He invented the Spenserian sonnet and the Spenserian stanza. He is buried next to Chaucer in the Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.

Christopher Marlowe
In 1587, he began doing espionage for England, but he was arrested in 1593 on charges of making scandalous and controversial speeches.

Days before the court date, Marlowe was stabbed in a brawl and died. His best-known play is “The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus.

” His heroes are driven, power-hungry men who refuse to recognize their own limits as humans or their responsibilities to others.

Sir Walter Raleigh
Described as handsome, arrogant, and dashing, his powerful poems reflect the courage of a man who was ready to accept his fate without self-pity. He was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, but after she died, his enemies convicted him of treason on false evidence and sentenced him to death. In 1617, still under a death sentence, he was granted voyage to South America, however, his men attacked a Spanish settlement, and the Spanish king pressed King James to execute him. His words upon seeing the executioner’s ax were: “This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases.”

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18″”Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameter.

A sonnet about love, the speaker tells his love that she is even more beautiful than summer by listing summer’s faults that she does not have. By writing the sonnet, he fulfills his desire to immortalize her, making her beauty last forever.

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 29″”When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameterThe speaker feels betrayed here.

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 30″”When to the sessions of sweet silent thought”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameterThe speaker is here implied to be male by the speaker’s mentioning that his eyes are “unused to flow.” The speaker mourns his friends in this piece, and the overall tone is melancholic, though it ends more hopefully.

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 71″”No longer mourn for me when I am dead”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameterIn this poem, the speaker tells their love not to mourn them when they die.

However, the piece to melodramatic to the point at which the reader is given the impression that the opposite sentiment is intended.

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73″”That time of year thou mayst in me behold”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameterImagery of autumn is used in this piece to show the reader the speaker’s age by his being in the fall of his life. The speaker feels that his love is only stronger from the knowledge of his impending death.

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116″”Let me not to the marriage of true minds”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameterThe tone of this piece is passive and self-assured. The speaker feels that true love does not change when the world does.

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130″”My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,”
By William ShakespeareWritten in iambic pentameterThis sonnet is more commonly referred to as an “anti-sonnet,” because the speaker does not praise his love, rather he insults her.

The speaker tries to make the point that his love is more real than the idea of perfect love because perfect love cannot really exist.

Spenser’s “Sonnet 30″”My love is like to ice, and I to fire;”
By Edmund SpenserWritten as an Italian SonnetIn this piece, the speaker talks about his unrequited love for a woman, likening her to ice and himself to fire. The paradoxical theme of the sonnet is that his “fire” does not melt the “ice,” rather it hardens it. The end tone is sincere and gentler than at the beginning of the poem.

Spenser’s “Sonnet 75″”One day I wrote her name upon the strand,”
By Edmund SpenserThe speaker in this sonnet wants to immortalize his love for his love. However, the woman he loves does not have the same romantic tendencies, rather, she is more practical.

The speaker wants to write his love’s name in the sand, and she argues that it will be washed away, and she likens herself to the name in the sand, saying that she will be “washed away” too, one day. The speaker, as a response, decides to immortalize her in the sonnet.

“Sonnet 31” (“Astrophel and Stella”)”With how sad steps, oh Moon, thou climb’st the skies,”
By Sir Philip SidneyThis apostrophe, addressed to the moon, gives the theme of love’s causing suffering. Cupid is mentioned to show this idea, because Cupid is fabled to be a blind child, making love random and inconvenient. The last five lines are rhetorical questions.

“Thou Blind Man’s Mark””Thou blind man’s mark, thou fool’s self-chosen snare,”
By Sir Philip SidneyThe blindness in this sonnet is not literal blindness, but enlightenment. The speaker despairs over his submission to desire, making the tone bitter.

“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love””Come live with me, and be my love,”
By Christopher MarloweThis poem is a lyric, pastoral, and carpe diem poem.

The poem is meant to appeal to city-dwellers, by the descriptions of the country. The poem is an idealized version of shepherding life. The tone is hyperbolic, as the speaker is promising impossible things, such as pure gold buckles, and ever-lasting May. The speaker is naive and short-sighted.

“The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd””If all the world and love were young,”
By Sir Walter RaleighThis poem is a reply to “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.

” In this poem, the woman addressed in the first poem is shown to be practical.

When I Was Fair and Young”When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.”
By Queen Elizabeth IThe speaker is female here, and she talks about the vanity she had in her youth. She likens herself to a peacock to further show her vanity and pride. The last stanza of the poem, however, is regretful of love she never had as a result of her previous pride.

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