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Elements of poetry: Explain sonnet and its types

List out the elements of poetry. Explain sonnet and its types.

Poetry has the following elements or types:

a. Sonnet             d. ballad                g. romance

b. elegy                 e. epic                   h. narrative verse

c. ode                  f. lyric


The word sonnet is derived from the Italian word ‘sonnetto’ which literally means a ‘little sound or ‘song’ It is a lyric poem of 14 lines which is in iambic pentameter with considerable variations in the rhyme scheme. A sonnet expresses different aspects of a single thought, mood or feeling. There are two basic forms of sonnet:

  1. the petrachan or Italian sonnet
  2. the English

The petrachan sonnet comprises two main parts namely an octave (an eight line stanza) followed by a sestet (a six line stanza). The octave rhymes cdecde or cdcdcd or any combination except the octave. the octave presents and develops one thought out as which grows the sestet. Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella is a good instance of the petrachan sonnet.

Sir Thomas Wyatt and Earl of surrey introduced sonnet in England. Shakespeare and Spenser wrote English sonnets. The Shakespearean sonnets have three quatrains (abab, cdcd, efef) followed by a couplet (ee). The Spenserian sonnet comprises three quatrains followed by a binding end – couplet.  Shakespeare wrote a series of 154 sonnets. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?……” is one of them.


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