What are some sonnets

So nice

As So nice is called a poem form. The sonnet is a fourteen-line poem consisting of two four-line and two three-line stanzas. The quatrains are called quartets and the three-line terzets. A characteristic of the sonnet is the use of alternating (alternating raising and lowering) meter measures, mostly using the iambus. The rhyme scheme varies. An embracing rhyme in the quartet is typical, whereas the thirds mostly follow the pattern cdc / dcd, cde / cde and ccd / eed. However, there are innumerable varieties of the sonnet (see literary epochs).

Term and examples

The term refers to the Italian origin of the poem form. The sonnet is derived from the Latin verb sonars, the sound or sound means as well as the nounsonus starting with sound or sound translates. In Italian the type of poem is called sonetto, from which the German term goes back.

Following the translation, the poem is also in German as Ringing or Sound poem known, which in its original form was primarily used to express and convey inner feelings. It originated from the freer in Italy in the first half of the 13th century sonetwhich was more extensive and had a less strict structure. Let's look at an example:


We are butnuhnmergantz, jamehrdengantzverheret!
The cheeky crowd, the lawn trumpet
The fat from the blood, the thundering Carthaun
Hattallerschweisvndfleißvndvorrathes consumed.

Dietürmestehninglutt, the church is reversed.
DasRahthausligtimgrauß, dieestarckensindzerhawn,
The young women are violated, vndwowirhinnurschawn,
Istfewer, pest, vndtodt, derhertzvndtgeistdurchfehret.

As a result, the city trintal time fresh blood.
Dreymallindtschonsexjahr, alsvnserströmeflutt,
From so many corpses heavy, slowly advanced.

But keep quiet about what was worse than dead,
Wasgrimmerdendiepestvndtgluttvndthungersnoth,
DasnunderSelenschatzsoftenforced.


The above examplethat's the title Tears of the fatherland is by Andreas Gryphius, a German Baroque writer. It consists of four stanzas, which are divided into two quartets (four-line lines) and two thirds (three-line lines). The poem follows the ABBA rhyme scheme in the first two stanzas, which is embracing rhymes. The terzets follow the pattern CCD and EED, so they are tail rhymes.

Furthermore, the unstressed and stressed syllables alternate in the poem (alternate) and can be identified as a continuous iambus (verse foot of two syllables; unstressed, stressed). Since there are six accented syllables (accented syllables) in each line, we are dealing with a six-accented iambus. It is noticeable that the first syllables are unstressed, followed by a stressed syllable, then another unstressed, etc.

The last syllables the lines of verse are different. Verses 1, 4, 5, 8, 11 and 13 end without stress, while the other lines end with stress. Assuming that iambi, which are known to consist of two syllables, alternate in the poem, the verses, if they begin the same, would also have to end the same and thus consist of an even number of syllables - but do not do them.

The only decisive factor for a Baroque sonnet is that there are six accentuations per line of verse, which are realized by the iambus. Thus, at the end of a line of verse, there can be another, but unstressed, syllable. The Baroque sonnets therefore have 12 lines per line or 13 syllables, whereby the 12th syllable is always stressed, the 13th is always unstressed. If such a line of verse ends accentuated, it is called a male cadence, if it ends without stress, it is called a female cadence. The cadences in the sonnet are therefore changeable.

This means: The above example by Gryphius is a sonnet because it consists of fourteen verses that are divided into two quartets and two trios, an alternating sequence of unstressed and stressed syllables that are iambic and have different cadences, with both quartets the rhyme scheme ABBA, the thirds follow the pattern CCD, EED. But that there are six exaltations per verse, whereby the verses are called Alexandrians, is a peculiarity of the Baroque and not in every sonnet like this.

Forms and structure of the sonnet

As already written, the sonnet has a fixed structure and therefore also has very clear characteristics that can be named. However, there are different characteristics and characteristics of the sonnet poetry in the individual epochs and regions, although these only differ in individual details. The following is an overview that summarizes the essential aspects.

The classic Italian sonnet, which, to a certain extent, forms the template for all other forms, also consisted of four stanzas, with two quartets serving as an introduction, followed by two trios. However, the stanzas are formed from eleven silver, the so-called endecasillabi. In this meter, the stress is always on the tenth syllable. However, since most Italian words end unstressed, the verses of the Italian sonnet usually have 11 syllables and a feminine cadence.


Odilettid’amordubbiefugaci
Osperanzaches’alzaecadespesso,
Enasce emore inunmomento istesso;
Opocafede, opocolunghepaci!
Note: two vowels that follow one another are ground down and pronounced as a dipthong. In the example presented here, each verse actually only contains 11 syllables. The loops are marked in color.

The above example is taken from a sonnet by Gaspara Stampa, an Italian poet of the 16th century. This is the first quartet of the sonnet. It is obvious that each line consists of 11 syllables and ends unstressed, with the meter alternating throughout. It is therefore a typical Italian sonnet of that time that fulfills the external characteristics.

This original form of the poem was adopted with all its peculiarities in Spanish and Portuguese. There were also attempts to translate this structure into German. Five-part iambi were chosen, so that the initial sonnets in German usually had 10 or 11 syllables and, like the model, were also characterized by five accents.

In Germany in the 16th and 17th centuries, Martin Opitz, a Baroque poet, declared the Alexandrian to be the essential meter of German poetry, which was also the preferred meter of French tragedy. It is therefore hardly surprising that the sonnet was simply transferred in this form and that most German sonnets are based on this form.

That means, that the typical German sonnet in the Baroque era is exactly six - and not five - Had elevations, which is why it has either 12 or 13 syllables. Furthermore, the Alexandrian is characterized by a caesura between the third and fourth foot of the verse. Now an example that makes this structure clear.


Dusiehstwohindusiehst | only vanity on earth.
What this builds today | tear tomorrow:
Where are still cities | will be a way of life
AufdeinSchäferskind | will play with the herds.

The example is the first quartet of the sonnet It is all vain, which also comes from the baroque poet Andreas Gryphius. The external features of the shape have already been described, which is why they remain uncommented. The decisive factor is the caesura that comes after the third foot of the verse and before the fourth foot of the verse. A verse is here a Complete iambus, i.e. the sequence of an unstressed and a stressed syllable.

Such a turning point is characteristic of the Alexandrian and therefore also of the baroque sonnet. The caesura describes a metric incision that is perceived as a short pause while reading. As a result, the individual lines are split metrically in the middle. Anyone who reads the poem out loud and clear will notice that after see, builds, stand and -child there is a clear pause in speaking.

On the one hand this is only a formal feature that could be mentioned in a poem analysis, on the other hand the caesura in the sonnet mostly has a content-related function. As a rule, it stands between two opposites, i.e. antitheses. We go to that in the section Structure of the content of the sonnet more precisely.

Also in England the sonnet quickly became a popular form of poetry. But here, too, became the Italian Archetype changed. So it was not two quartets that formed the beginning, but three terzets, which were followed by a two-line, the so-called heroic couplet, have been completed. The five-lever iambus determined the English sonnets, with the verses ending in a female or male cadenza.

Later, in Germany at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, The ideal form of a sonnet was no longer the Alexandrian verse, but also the iambic five-key, although the number of fourths and trios remained. Incidentally, it is generally true of German poetry that the Alexandrian, at least since the Sturm und Drang, has been supplanted by the more flexible blank verse.

Although the number of accents in the different languages ​​and epochs changed, the rhyme scheme in the sonnet remained identical in all variants. The quartets were typically written in embracing rhymes and the trios in a scheme cdc / dcd; cde / cde and ccd / eed.

Structure of the content of the sonnet

As indicated in the previous section, most of the sonnets follow - regardless of their formal structure - a logic of content. This is reflected in the German, baroque sonnet in the verses, although in the Italian sonnet a content is communicated through the stanzas.

In Italian sonnets The following structure is often found here: The first quartet contains a thesis (assertion), which is opposed to an antithesis in the second quartet. This can be a contradiction in terms of content or a kind of counter-assertion. A synthesis, i.e. a result, is then formed in the thirds. Sometimes the thesis is also in the quartets, the antithesis in the trios.

In the German replica, which was determined by the Alexandrian, such a contradiction can often be found within the lines of verse, whereby the individual pages are separated from each other by the caesura. This means that a statement is made up to the third exaltation in the verse, which is then revised, i.e. canceled, or to which something is opposed. Let's look again at the Gryphius quartet:


Dusiehstwohindusiehst | only vanity on earth.
What this builds today | tear tomorrow:
Where are still cities | will be a way of life
AufdeinSchäferskind | will play with the herds.

This example has already been presented. This time, however, it should be about the content-related aspects. The antithetical structure becomes particularly clear in the second and third verses. So it says before the turning point of the second line that someone is building something today, whereupon it is pointed out after the caesura that it already torn tomorrow is. The third line is similar, being Cities and grasslands face.

These adversaries are found quite often in Alexandrian verse and therefore, since they determine the sonnet of the Baroque, also for this form of poetry. Another example, where the pair of opposites almost turn into paradoxes(False contradictions) turn, can be found in Angelus Silesius, a poet and theologian of the Baroque era. The following lines are his work The cherubian wanderer taken.


Blossom, frozen Christ, | derMai is at the front door:
Dubleibestewigtot, | don't bloom now and here.

Tenzone and sonnet wreath

Often sonnets were summarized in poetry cycles. These larger cycles can represent a kind of argument between several authors or they can be devoted to a very specific main topic. The typical representatives here are the tenzones and the sonnet wreath.

  • Tenzone: Refers to a dispute between two poets (see dispute, controversy), which is often carried out over a long period of time. The strict form of the tenzone stipulates that the rhyme endings of the sonnet that is answered are taken up. Tenzones can be polemical.

  • Wreath of sonnets: A sonnet wreath consists of a total of 15 sonnets (14 single sonettas, 1 master sonnet). Each sonnet takes up the last line of the previous one as the first verse. From the closing verses of all 14 sonnets, the master sonnet then emerges, albeit in an unchanged order.

More sonnet examples

In the previous consideration, some sonnets have already been examined and presented as examples. However, the Sonnet poetry is enormously diverse, which is why such a contribution can only depict a small section. Nevertheless, we would like to collect selected sonnet examples from different epochs and regions below. The examples open when you click on.

Nature and art, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Nature and art, they seem to be fleeing each other
And before you think so, they found each other;
The reluctance has disappeared from me too,
And they both seem to attract me the same way.

It is only a sincere effort that counts!
And when we, in measured hours,
We are bound to art with spirit and diligence,
Let nature glow again in the heart.

That's how it is with all education.
In vain become unbound spirits
Strive to achieve pure height.

If you want big things, you have to pull yourself together.
Only in the limitation does the master show himself,
And only the law can give us freedom.

That's how strange I am who goes through the night
The black hat on my poet's head.
I come blown along the streets.
With soft happiness I am quite leafy.

It's half past twelve, it's not late yet ...
Lanterns slumber sweetly and dusty of snow.
Oh, if only no woman gets to me now
With words, disgraceful, raw and unauthorized!

The streets I come to blow
The lights seem to suck gently out of me
What just separated me from people;

That's how strange I am who goes through the night ...
Girlfriend, if I could meet you now
I am so gentle with my blue eyes!

I once left you in mad madness, Heinrich Heine

I once left you in mad madness
I wanted to end the whole world
And wanted to see if I could find love
To embrace love lovingly.

I looked for love in every street,
In front of every door I stretch out my hands,
And begged for gringe donation of love,
But laughing, I was only given cold hatred.

And always I wandered about love, always
For love, but I never found love
And returned home, sick and gloomy.

But then you came to meet me
And oh! what swam in your eye,
That was sweet, long-sought love.

Your heart is frozen, Georg Rudolf Weckherlin

Just like a poor person with an earthly mind
Supposedly, listening to the doctrines of superstition,
A beautifully painted picture as the Savior of his spirit
To honor with petitions, sacrifices, praise and other service:

So and more I fail - pointless - through my desire,
When I lifted up my heart, face and hand for you,
When can I complain and complain,
My own lack of understanding is to blame.

Yes, goddess, whose grace alone can save me,
I accuse you of foul, I hope fumed the lust,
That your heart be given with love my love.

Then I should when I saw your snow-white breast
Enchanting Bühl, not - wiser - have thought
That there must be a heart of ice under such snow?

Spring has come again, Rainer Maria Rilke

SPRING has come again. The earth
is like a child who knows poetry;
many, o many…. For the complaint
long learning she gets the prize.

Her teacher was strict. We liked the white
on the old man's beard.
Well, what the name of the green, the blue,
may we ask; she can, she can

Earth that is free, you happy, play
now with the children. We want to catch you
happy earth. The happiest succeeds.

O what the teacher taught her, the many,
and what is printed is in roots and long
difficult tribes: she sings, she sings!

She forgot mine, Clemens Brentano

hard, hot day! Your easy life
Closes his eyelids, crying tired,
Sleep already lowers the thawing plumage,
To cool such beauty to weave a roof.

Soft words float from her lips:
"You love sweet dreams, come back!"
Her dream of love settles there
To lift sick pleasure from their slumber. -

"You dream!" - "I am not a dream", he speaks with fear,
"O let us not miss such lovely luck!"
Then he woke her up and wanted to surround her. -

Speak! Whose am I? Who owned me
I never lived - was a woman's dream -
And I never died - she forgot mine.

A wonderland is open at the top, Joseph von Eichendorff

A wonderland is open on top
Where golden rivers go and resound dark,
Chants deeply fade away through the rustling,
They would like to say a big word to you

Many golden bridges are boldly built there,
Old brothers ponder over it -
When sounds fall like in the spring rain.
Freed longing wants to carry you there.

How soon all fear lay down below, gloomy,
You strove to listen, you no longer looked down,
And the brothers' love always beckoned higher:

Whoever is touched by the sacred songs
His life is immersed in the music of the stars
An eternal draw into a wonderful distance!

In the forest I can spend long afternoons
Lying in the grass listening to the cuckoo;
He seems to weigh in the valley leisurely
In the peaceful harmony of his lament.

I feel good and my worst plague
To submit to the grimaces of society
Here she won't finally get a war on me
Where I am comfortable in my own way.

And if the fine people only thought
How beautifully poets waste their time
In the end you would even envy me.

For weaving the crowded wreaths of the sonnet
As if by itself under my hands,
Meanwhile the eyes feast in the distance.


Further:Eduard Mörike (Curriculum vitae)

Brief overview: The sonnet at a glance
  • The sonnet is a form of poetry that has its origins in 13th century Italy. The sonnet is characterized by a clear structure, even if there are numerous variants of the poem form. Because the external characteristics of the sonnet are mostly constant, the sonnet can be recognized quite easily.
  • The type of poem is divided into two quartets (Quatrain)whereupon two trios (Three lines) consequences. The verses of the stanzas alternate iambically and are each characterized by six accents. Accordingly, each line of verse can have 12 or 13 syllables that end in either a male or female cadence. The original Italian form had 10 or 11 syllables per line.
  • The rhyme scheme of the quartets usually follows the pattern of the embracing rhyme (abba), whereas the thirds mostly follow the schema cdc / dcd, cde / cde and ccd / eed consequences. Variations are possible, however, since the rhyme scheme of the terzette is not binding.
  • In the German Baroque it was customary to write the sonnet in Alexandrians throughout. The Alexandrian is an iambic meter, which is characterized by six accents. After the third elevation there is a caesura. This turning point very often marks a turning point in terms of content in the Alexandrian. Thus, within a verse, there are often contradictions, i.e. contradicting statements (antitheses).
  • Very often sonnets deal with a topic that is examined from several perspectives. Here, in the first stanza, an assertion is made or just a thought is taken up. In the second stanza this claim is refuted or a contrary experience is portrayed. The result of this comparison of content then becomes a result or a result in the thirds final Statement made.