What Type Of Sonnet Is The Easiest?

by Amy

Sonnets are among the most recognizable and enduring forms of poetry, known for their structured elegance and thematic depth. Defined as a 14-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme and meter, sonnets have captivated poets and readers alike for centuries. The form originated in Italy and gained prominence during the Renaissance, spreading across Europe and evolving into distinct traditions such as the Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets.

Types of Sonnets

There are two primary types of sonnets that have become foundational in Western poetry: the Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet and the Shakespearean (English) sonnet. Each type exhibits its own characteristics in terms of structure, rhyme scheme, and thematic exploration.

Petrarchan Sonnet

The Petrarchan sonnet, named after the Italian poet Petrarch, typically consists of 14 lines divided into an octave (8 lines) followed by a sestet (6 lines). The rhyme scheme of the octave is ABBA ABBA, while the sestet may follow various patterns such as CDECDE or CDCDCD. This form often presents a question or problem in the octave and provides a resolution or commentary in the sestet.

Shakespearean Sonnet

The Shakespearean sonnet, also known as the English sonnet, is structured into 14 lines divided into three quatrains (4-line stanzas) and a concluding couplet (2-line stanza). The rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This structure allows for a clear progression of thought or argument through the quatrains, leading to a definitive conclusion or twist in the couplet.

Easiest Type of Sonnet—Shakespearean Sonnet

Among the two main types of sonnets, the Shakespearean sonnet is often considered the easiest for beginners due to its straightforward and predictable structure. The division into quatrains and a couplet provides a natural framework for developing ideas and themes. This clarity in structure can be particularly helpful for writers who are new to crafting sonnets, as it allows for a systematic exploration of a topic or emotion.

Reasons Why Shakespearean Sonnet May Be Easier

The Shakespearean sonnet’s rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG is more regular and easier to follow compared to the Petrarchan sonnet, which has a more complex interplay between its octave and sestet.
The clear division into sections—three quatrains and a couplet—provides a logical progression of ideas, making it easier for poets to organize their thoughts cohesively within the poem.

Example of a Simple or Accessible Shakespearean Sonnet

Here is an example of a well-known Shakespearean sonnet, Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (A)

Thou art more lovely and more temperate: (B)

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, (A)

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: (B)

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, (C)

And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; (D)

And every fair from fair sometime declines, (C)

By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d; (D)

But thy eternal summer shall not fade (E)

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; (F)

Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade, (E)

When in eternal lines to time thou growest; (F)

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, (G)

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. (G)


In Sonnet 18, Shakespeare explores the theme of eternal beauty and the power of poetry to preserve it. The three quatrains present different aspects of the beloved’s beauty and the challenges posed by time and nature, leading to a definitive assertion of immortality in the final couplet. The structured rhyme scheme and meter enhance the poem’s musicality and emphasize its thematic development.

Tips for Writing a Simple Sonnet

When writing a Shakespearean sonnet, start with a clear idea or feeling that can be explored in three distinct parts: each quatrain should develop a different aspect of your theme or argument.

Use the concluding couplet to provide a summary, resolution, or unexpected twist that adds depth to your poem.

Experiment with rhyme and meter while keeping the language straightforward and expressive, allowing the natural flow of iambic pentameter to guide your composition.

See also: What Are The 2 Common Forms Of Sonnet?


In conclusion, the Shakespearean sonnet stands out as the easiest type of sonnet for beginners due to its clear structure and regular rhyme scheme. This form not only provides a manageable framework for organizing thoughts and ideas but also offers a rich tradition of exploring complex themes with clarity and elegance. By practicing the writing of Shakespearean sonnets, aspiring poets can develop their skills and appreciation for this enduring form of poetry, contributing to its continued relevance in literary expression. Encourage readers to explore and practice writing sonnets to develop their skills and understanding of poetry.

FAQs about sonnets

1. What is the easiest sonnet?

The Shakespearean sonnet is often considered the easiest type of sonnet for beginners. It follows a clear and predictable structure, consisting of 14 lines divided into three quatrains (4-line stanzas) and a concluding couplet (2-line stanza). The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This structured format allows for a systematic development of ideas or themes, making it more accessible to poets who are new to writing sonnets.

2. What is the most common type of sonnet?

The most common types of sonnets are the Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet and the Shakespearean (English) sonnet. Among these, the Shakespearean sonnet is more widely recognized and frequently used in English literature. It is characterized by its division into three quatrains followed by a couplet, with the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

3. What is a simple sonnet?

A simple sonnet refers to any sonnet that adheres to a clear and uncomplicated structure, making it easier to understand and write. Typically, this includes sonnets that follow established forms like the Shakespearean or Petrarchan sonnet, where the rhyme scheme and stanzaic divisions are straightforward and contribute to a coherent expression of ideas or emotions.

4. What is the easiest way to identify a sonnet?

There are several key characteristics that help identify a sonnet:

Fourteen lines: A sonnet always consists of 14 lines.

Specific rhyme scheme: Most sonnets have a specific rhyme scheme that distinguishes them from other forms of poetry. For example, the Shakespearean sonnet has the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Meter: Sonnets often use iambic pentameter, which means each line has 10 syllables with alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.

Division into sections: Sonnets are typically divided into sections such as quatrains (4-line stanzas) and a concluding couplet (2-line stanza), which help organize the poem thematically and structurally.

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