English Sonnet Vs. Italian Sonnet

Difference Between English Sonnet And Italian Sonnet The form of literature that uses a combination of speech and…

Difference Between English Sonnet And Italian Sonnet

The form of literature that uses a combination of speech and language along with songs, rhetoric, drama and even comedy is called poetry. Throughout the history of mankind poetry has been used to pass on the stories and incidents through various generations.

There are three varieties of modern poetry are comic, tragic, and epic. Apart form that there also many other forms like Canzone(Italy), Ruba’I(Arabia and Persia), Jintishi(China),Tanka and Haiku(Japan), Sijo(Korea),Rondeau(France), Ode(Greece), Sonnet etc.

Sonnet is most universal of all kinds of poetry. Containing fourteen lines in content, the first four lines usually tells us about the topic of the poem (usually it is love related).While a sonnet has a particular pattern of rhyme and meter, it can be found in two forms like Italian and English sonnet.

It was in the beginning of the 16th century A.D when the English sonnet was born. Consisting of 14 lines, the lines were divided into a couplet and 3 quatrains. The renowned William Shakespeare used sonnets in many of his works like ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

However it was in the early 11th century A.D. when Italian sonnet was born. Two of the most renowned contributors in this form of literary art are Petrarch and Michelangelo. There are two portions of an Italian sonnet described by an argument where the first portion (octet)-containing 8 lines-states the problem and the second portion (sestet)-containing 6 lines- prepares a solution.

The 9th line in a sonnet is called the turn or volta and it signifies a change in the nature, feel of the poem. As far as the English sonnet is concerned the volta is generally in the third quatrain except in Shakespeare’s sonnets where the volta used to be in the couplet.

The writing of an Italian sonnet was according to the principles of iambic pentameter- a system where there are 10 syllables in a weak-strong combination. In the sonnet the first and fourth, fifth and eighth, second and third and also the sixth and seventh lines are according to rhyme. Iambic pentameter is also found in the English sonnet, however other meters are also found in an English sonnet.


1. The Italian sonnet is also regarded as Petrarchan sonnet and the English sonnet as Shakespearian sonnet.

2. Petrarch and Shakespeare did not create these kinds of sonnet but were the most renowned sonnet writers during their life-time.

3. The two parts of an Italian sonnet are the octet- consisting of 8 lines that tell us about a problem and the sestet- consisting of 6 lines- that provides solutions to the problem. On the other hand, the English sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet.

4. While the volta is found in the third quatrain of the English sonnet, it is found in the ninth line in the Italian sonnet.

5. While the Italian sonnet was born in the early 11th century A.D. the English sonnet originated in the beginning of the 16th century A.D.


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