For the first three weeks of Write On! at Poinciana Library, we will be focusing on poetry. Today, we will discuss verse poetry, specifically the poetic forms of the haiku and the sonnet (Shakespearean and Italian). We will also try our hand at writing in these forms.
Click the following link to learn more about poetic forms and terms: Young Writers | Poetry Glossary: Poetry Types.
If you are unable to join us today, or are simply seeking a quick reminder about the forms to be discussed, then read on…and try your hand writing these forms at home.
The Structure of the Haiku
The most famous name in haiku was the Japanese 17th century poet Basho (born Matsuo Kinsaku). Haiku, however, was a poetic style that was already forming when Basho began his own explorations into this style of writing. In fact, he created his own poetic form, called haibun, that combined haiku and prose.
The haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of 3 lines with a total of 17 syllables. You may choose to rhyme or not. Some people choose to rhyme the first and third lines. The usual themes of haiku deal with nature, longing, loss, and everyday moments in life.
Let’s take a look at the form :
Basho’s Sick on a Journey
旅に病で / 夢は枯野を / かけ廻る
tabi ni yande | yume wa kareno wo | kake-meguru
5 Syllables | 7 syllables | 5 syllables
(translation: Sick on a journey, / my dreams wander / the withered fields)
Carol A. Coiffait
This Autumn midnight (5)
Orion’s at my window (7)
shouting for his dog. (5)
Notice the themes! The season is usually mentioned (Basho mentions withered fields, so likely winter; and Coiffait directly states Autumn), there is a sense of longing and/or loss, and it captures an everyday moment in time.
The Structure of the Sonnet
Today we will look at the Shakespearean (English) and Italian forms of the sonnet. If you are interested in learning more about the history and development of the sonnet, visit The Sonnet.
The sonnet is a verse poem of 14 lines. Each line consists of 10 syllables of alternating unstressed/stressed sounds (think of your heartbeat- da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM), which is known as iambic pentameter.
A sonnet can be written about anything. Historically speaking, however, it has been used to discuss ideas on religion, nature and love (think William Shakespeare and Pablo Neruda). Below are the two structures. Note the letters represent the rhyming pattern. Also, try reading one aloud to get the sense of rhythm!
Italian: ABBA | ABBA | CDECDE
English: AB | AB | CDCD | EFEF| GG
Dante’s Tanto gentile e tanto onesta
Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare (A)
la donna mia, quand’ella altrui saluta, (B)
ch’ogne lingua devèn, tremando, muta, (B)
e li occhi no l’ardiscon di guardare. (A)
Ella si va, sentendosi laudare, (A)
benignamente d’umiltà vestuta, (B)
e par che sia una cosa venuta (B)
da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare. (A)
Mostrasi sì piacente a chi la mira (C)
che dà per li occhi una dolcezza al core, (D)
che ‘ntender no la può chi no la prova; (E)
e par che de la sua labbia si mova (C)
un spirito soave pien d’amore, (D)
che va dicendo a l’anima: Sospira. (E)
Shakespeare’s Sonnet II
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, (A)
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field, (B)
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now, (A)
Will be a totter’d weed of small worth held: (B)
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies, (C)
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days; (D)
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes, (C)
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise. (D)
How much more praise deserv’d thy beauty’s use, (E)
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine (F)
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’ (E)
Proving his beauty by succession thine! (F)
This were to be new made when thou art old, (G)
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold. (G)
Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet LXVI
No te quiero sino porque te quiero (A)
y de quererte a no quererte llego (B)
y de esperarte cuando no te espero (A)
pasa mi corazón del frío al fuego. (B)
Te quiero sólo porque a ti te quiero, (A)
te odio sin fin, y odiándote te ruego, (B)
y la medida de mi amor viajero (A)
es no verte y amarte como un ciego. (B)
Tal vez consumirá la luz de Enero, (C)
su rayo cruel, mi corazón entero, (D)
robándome la llave del sosiego. (E)
En esta historia sólo yo me muero (C)
y moriré de amor porque te quiero, (D)
porque te quiero, amor, a sangre y fuego. (E)
Come on out next week if you don’t get a chance to this week. Always on Tuesdays at 5 PM at the Poinciana Library, 101 North Doverplum Avenue, Kissimmee, FL 34758.