The sonnet is one of the most used forms of classical poetry. Rooted in Italian, this 14-line poetic form has a strong presence in English too. The sonnet uses iambic pentameter (a fancy way of saying 10 syllables in a structured rhythm per line) and a specific rhyme scheme. The sonnet below is an original Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet by staff member Rebeca Parrott. The end lines follow this rhyme pattern: abba, abba, cdecde.
Meet My Nemesis
by Rebeca Parrott
How fearful is the sonnet, wielding life
and death (as metaphors) in fourteen lines.
I’d rather scribble down some cryptic signs
for linguists to decode and avoid the mental strife
of rhymed pentameter. Iambic feet are rife
with opportunities to tangle in the vines
of vocab, Petrarch’s puns, grammarian mines.
Perhaps I am a literary lowlife.
But I discover joy in this measured form,
a unifying framework to shake my fevered thoughts,
a mode of transport commended by the best.
For whether sonnets or cinquains or perfect poetic storms,
these crystalline-careful words have long been sought
by poets. Wrangling words lead to rest.