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Lecture 9

ENGL 200 Lecture 9 - Sonnets.docx

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English (Arts)
ENGL 200
Wes Folkerth

Sonnets Historical Background Happened during the 1580s to the 1590s, and was a popular way to share poems Sonnets were shared by a small group of people in the know a coterie This means that the sonnets were not really for the general public (there were not intended to be published). Later on, they were published and found themselves in print They were distributed and copied by hand around circles of friends Many people wrote them, and they were a sign of love and devotion and courtship You would write 100 poems of sonnets to your beloved Many writers would give them a narrative coherence, where there had not been intended to give them an explicit narrative The form of the sonnet is very theatrical, and your friends would understand the context Shakespeare never intended his works to be published, but he wrote them to make himself respected and known, and taken seriously in general The word sonnet comes from Italian for little sound or little song They always have exactly 14 lines (and are therefore also called quartorzes) and are therefore very compressed but enough to express your deepest feelings Someone once said that the Sonnet is a moments monument. This is actually a sonnet written by D.G. Rossetti. The Sonnet A Sonnet is a moment's monument,-- Memorial from the Soul's eternity To one dead deathless hour. Look that it be, Whether for lustral rite or dire portent, Of its own intricate fulness reverent: Carve it in ivory or in ebony, As Day or Night prevail; and let Time see Its flowering crest impearled and orient. A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals The soul,--its converse, to what Power 'tis due:-- Whether for tribute to the august appeals Of Life, or dower in Love's high retinue It serve; or, 'mid the dark wharf's cavernous breath, In Charon's palm it pay the toll to Death. There are two major kinds: 1. Petrarchan From the Italian writer Petrarch is the source for the popularity of the form in England Wyatt and Surrey brought this form into English, and they got it from their travels in Europe, and they were both delighted with them Came from people from their travels, where they were inspired and transferred and translated these sonnets into English, and they English-ed the form There are two forms: Octave o ABBAABBA(2 ABBAs) o You get a presentation of a problem Sestet o CDCCDC (2 CDCs) o You get a change or epiphany (a volta) o Something surprising may happen o Signifies a new understanding on the part of writer The use of conceits or extended metaphors is used to expand the way you feel Finding this fresh imagery is important Blazon: When the poet goes through a catalogue of a womans features (physical parts) For example: A womans eyes like red rubies Note that women wrote sonnets too. Queen Elizabeth was pretty good. You also find a lot of oxymoronic language/imagery You find conflicting emotions inside of you (the poet) For example, you can find love and desire mingled with shame and fear For example, you find a state that is intolerable, impossible to be in this state, and that you cant do anything about it 2. English (Later on Elizabethan) Sort of different, and made sonnets differently Different structure Wyatt and Surrey adapted sonnets to the English language to make more rhyming words because there arent a lot of words in English that rhyme They had: Quatrain (ABBA, CDDC, EFFE) Couplet (GG) This allows many more (7) different rhymes versus 4 in the Petrachan sonnets (almost double) Typically the volta will happen in the third quatrain or in the sonnet Therefore, the surprised is sorted for the end of the work The original/standard theme of sonnets was love, but different themes emerged later The sonnet is still being written today, such as T.R Hummers The Rural Carrier Stops to Kill a Nine-Foot Cottonmouth: The Rural Carrier Stops to Kill a Nine-Foot Cottonmouth Lord God, I saw the son-of a bitch uncoil In the road ahead of me, uncoil and squirm For the ditch, squirm a hell of a long time. Missed him with the car. When I got back to him, he was all But gone, nothing left on the road, but the tip end Of his tail, and that disappearing into Johnson grass. I leaned over the ditch and saw him, balled up now, hiss I aimed for the mouth and shot him. And shot him again. Then I got a good strong stick and dragged him out. He was long and evil, thick as the top of my arm. There are things in this world a man can't look at without Wanting to kill. Don't ask me why. I was calm Enough, I thought. But I felt my spine (he becomes the snake!) Squirm, suddenly. I admit it. It was mine. This sonnet is about life and how you just have to kill The end is great because it is writing and tuning The postal man became the snake It is capable of so much, not rhyming, but amazing This type of poetry (the sonnet) is quite different This was a major turning point during the renaissance this time was about emotion and feelings it was intensely personal A form associated with love, and there are two aspects it is informed by: o Courtly love poetry (distanced idealized love relationship) Begins at the same time of the sonnet, but not so compressed Meant for performance at court Makes fashionable a love relationship Called the courtly love situation Has some really artificial qualities The poet finds himself far from his goal Often a married person of the same class or of a higher class Form of a complaint poetry an artificial kind of thing The distance between the lover and the object of love is usually compounded by the love objects rejection of the lover (the poet) This is reflected by the utterances of despair from the poet creating a physical and mental breakdown This distance is situational and emotional distance that is preserved Kind of related to the process of grief, often the sequence will be excited, then will get hope, then get disappointed, then he will get chided, and he will always be denied very few times will the love be consummated, usually only in a kiss, then everything will fall apart However, this kind of poetry is very artificial, less a set of biographical feelings but more of a reflection and exploration of your mind, of your own emotional feelings and experiences very personal too It is also for people to plug into and recognize their experience in
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