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Structure, Metrical Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Simple


The word “sonnet” comes from the Italian, meaning “little sound” or “little song.” It is generally a fourteen-line poem containing a pivot or volta. The pivot or volta is a change in direction ranging from a full about face to a slightly tangential take. In general, the sonnet is divided into either an octet (first eight lines) and sestet (last six lines) or three quatrains and a couplet. The change in direction usually occurs at one of these logical breaking points. Since the sonnet has many variations, each is delineated below with more specific information.

Attributed to: 

Giacomo da Lentino, an official of Frederick II’s Sicilian court.

Varies.  See the other sonnet entries.
Measures: Generally accentual-syllabic in English.

A well-executed pivot is usually the spine of the sonnet, upon which all else hangs.


The rhyme schemes can make some types of sonnet difficult to execute in English for the unpracticed poet. Likewise, working with accentual-syllabic verse can be difficult for those who have not done so before. See the individual entries below.

Starting Point: 

The pivot, volta, or change of thought is what sets the sonnet apart from most other poems. That is the place to start writing a sonnet.

Rhythm/Stanza Length: 


Line/Poem Length: 


See Also:  

Alternating Sonnet, Blues Sonnet, Bowlesian Sonnet, Caudate Sonnet, Chained Sonnet, Corona, Couplet Sonnet, Crown of Sonnets, Curtal Sonnet, Double Sonnet, Envelope Sonnet, French Sonnet, Heroic Sonnet, Petrarchan Sonnet, Pushkin Sonnet, Reverse English Sonnet, Scupham sonnet, Shakespearean Sonnet, Sicilian Sonnet, Sonnet of Sonnets, Sonnet Redoubled, Spenserian Sonnet, Stretched Sonnet, Terza Rima Sonnet, Wordsworth’s Sonnet




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