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Tales of Murder and Suspense (Sonnets Like You've Never Seen Before)

Updated on April 1, 2015
Jodah profile image

John has many years writing experience including a Writing School course "Writing for Profit." He has written text for children's books etc.


Behind the Scenes (Why I Wrote These Sonnets)

Firstly, let me thank annart (Ann Carr) for her recent photo prompt challenge (see her hub: "BREAKTHROUGH: Short Story exploring Loss, Injury & a Second Chance; A Challenge")

The mysteriously blurred photo that Ann provided has been haunting me ever since. I keep getting visions of a forest setting and someone semi-conscious and not seeing clearly or maybe dreaming. I was considering writing a short story to fit the photo but I had to finish a hub I was already working on first, "The Case of the Million Dollar Collar Continues."

Well, to cut a long story short, along comes billybuc (Bill Holland), reads my hub, and leaves a comment as follows: "I'm sitting here this Tuesday morning wondering if there is a genre or type of writing that you cannot do. You are so damned talented, John. How about a sonnet? Can you do a sonnet? There's your next challenge, although I'm fairly certain you can do it."

Now, for anyone that knows me it's obvious by now that I can never pass up a challenge or a dare. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone, to answer both Ann's challenge and Bill's dare/challenge in one hub.

I have never written a sonnet before and having never studied classic or formal poetry I had little idea of sonnets other than that William Shakespeare was famous for them. Well, it was time to do some research to find out all the rules involved. This hub is the result. I do warn you though .. these two sonnets are probably not like any sonnets you have ever read before. Did Edgar Allan Poe write any sonnets? I don't know, but if he did they'd probably be similar to these.

'Sonnet 18' by Shakepeare ( the Most Famous Sonnet of All)

Credit: "Sonnet 18," © 2008 Jinx!, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license:
Credit: "Sonnet 18," © 2008 Jinx!, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

What is a Sonnet?

The word "sonnet" comes from Italian word for “little song.” This is a fitting title — as a sonnet possesses many musical qualities.

Sonnets usually explore universal elements of human life to which many people can relate. Themes such as love, war, mortality, change, and hardship are some common topics featured in the sonnet. Sometimes the poet is trying to answer a larger question about life or provide commentary on a social issue.

In general, sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, are fourteen lines long, possess a set rhyme scheme, and have a recognizable turn or “volta.

There are two main types of sonnets: English and Italian. English sonnets are known as Shakespearean sonnets and Italian sonnets are also referred to as Petrarchan sonnets. The poets, Shakespeare and Petrarch, were the most famous sonnet writers of their time within their respective poetic forms. Though both types of sonnets are comprised of fourteen lines, the structuring of the lines and rhyme schemes are different.


Incorporating a Volta

An English sonnet is comprised of three quatrains and ends with a couplet. The resolution or volta does not come until the final rhymed couplet making a powerful ending statement. The Italian sonnet is composed of an octave and then a sestet. Generally, the first eight lines introduce a problem and the last six lines provide resolution.

Volta is the Italian word for “turn.” A turn represents various changes in the sonnet. It might refer to a change in the theme, the sound, the emphasis or the message of the poem. The volta indicate that the sonnet is coming to an end.

In the English sonnet, the volta is found in the third quatrain while in the Italian sonnet the volta is often found in the ninth line.

What is Iambic Pentameter?

Sonnets are written in a rhythm called iambic pentameter. An iamb is represented by two syllables and is an example of a metrical foot in a poem. The first syllable of an iamb is unstressed, and the second syllable is stressed or emphasized. When spoken aloud, the syllables sound like a fall and rise (duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-DUH). The word pentameter refers the act of repeating the iamb five times. Iambs don't need to be two-syllable words. The unstressed, stressed pattern can stretch out across separate words or even repeat within a single word provided that the stresses still work. Pentameter means that there are five metrical feet per line (10 total syllables).

English/ Shakespearean Sonnet

The rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet always follows this pattern:

  2. Although written in iambic pentameter, the rhythm can get plodding and predictable if you use it exclusively. By varying the stress pattern slightly at key moments, you can break up the pattern and make the poem more aurally interesting for the reader, and also use the variation to draw attention to key phrases in your poem.
  • A Shakespearean sonnet is composed of three quatrains and a one couplet.
  • In a Shakespearean sonnet, the three quatrains are the “ABAB CDCD EFEF” portion of the rhyme schem
  • The couplet is the “GG” closing.
  • You can separate these stanzas with blank lines, or leave them all together in an unbroken poem.

Is This a Face in the Bushes?

Blurred Points in the Dark
Blurred Points in the Dark | Source

What Do My Eyes Perceive?(an English sonnet)

by John Hansen © 2014

Perchance I slept not either sound nor deep

My bed beneath a lonely canvas tent.

The face of demons haunt my troubled sleep

To steal my soul, the fiends, they seem hell bent.

What do my eyes perceive this darkest night?

Deceived maybe by one as dim as I.

Is't folly that I doubt my sense of sight?

Are dreams at fault, or should in fear, I die?


But fears unfounded I should surely cease,

Believe not all my timid eyes may see.

Who knows what unknown evil dreams release,

Stranger than fiction fact may often be.

As welcome sunlight dawns upon the day

The fear in me soon starts to fade away.

Francesco Petrarch
Francesco Petrarch | Source

Italian/Petrarchan Sonnet

The iambic pentameter is the same as the English/Shakespearean sonnet.

But while the Shakespearean sonnet always has the exact same rhyme scheme, the Petrarchan sonnet does not have a single pattern.

  • The first eight lines (the octave) always follow a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, but the closing six lines (the sestet) have some variation. The following five patterns are the most common in the tradition of the Petrarchan sonnet.


That Scream! (an Italian sonnet)

by John Hansen © 2015

That scream! It fills my pounding heart with dread.

My body starts to tremble at the sound

As heavy feet drag over boggy ground,

My gun proceeds me as I move ahead.

The victim I expect is surely dead,

But nothing's sure until a body's found.

Within the forest, naked, cold, and bound,

The outcome sadly just the way I said.


At least all pain and suffering's no more,

Her fear and terror now things of the past.

The killer may for now elude my law,

But such evasion for long may not last.

Her jilted lover sobs behind the door,

Gun barrel in mouth makes a muffled blast.


© 2015 John Hansen


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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading my sonnets Writer4You2012. Always great to see a new name among the comments on my hubs.

    • profile image

      Writer4You2012 2 years ago

      Love it! That says it all!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Jodah, you never cease to amaze me. Your writing talent is boundless, your creativity astounding. You gave very good explanations on what a sonnet is and how to write one. I love sonnets - love to read them, love to write them.

      I enjoyed reading your sonnets and congratulate you on conquering yet another genre in your multifaceted talent. Well done, Jodah - well done.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Deb, this was a learning experience for me too. I knew nothing about sonnets before.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Very nice work! I nearly had to open my leather bound works to see where they ended, and you began.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hey Bearien, thanks for the generous comment. I too have a lot of respect for sonnets now after writing these. I appreciate the vote up.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 3 years ago

      Hi Jodah! These sonnets are awesome. I really respect the discipline it takes to squeeze your mind to fit into traditional forms. Great hub, voted up.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks so much Ann. I have had the same problem with some comments I have made recently..for some reason they haven't saved or shown up on the hub. I thought it strange when you said you were going to read the hub there was no comment. Sorry you had to repeat it, but I'm glad you did. Glad you found it worthy of meeting your challenge. Have a great weekend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Profuse apologies, John. I did read your hub a few days ago and left a lengthy reply; however, either it didn't register or I omitted to press 'post'.

      This is an amazing response; we have a brilliant tutorial on sonnets, most of which I had no clue about, PLUS we have two brilliant sonnets to boot.

      Your sonnets are wonderful; the first gives us a chilling glimpse from night to morn (through the trees or through the dreams?) and the second is scary and sad at the same time. Both are in the spirit of a sonnet, use the old-fashioned words/style of a sonnet and both are so well-crafted I was spell-bound.

      Shall I compare thee to Shakespeare? Nay, I'll plump for Hansen any day!

      Up and all but funny & shared.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Lawrence, writing these sonnets was quite challenging, but a learning experience too

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Two really good pieces. Not sure I could write them. Well done John

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you drbj, always good to have you visit my hub and leave a comment. Glad I exceeded your expectations too :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      You more than exceeded, John, any preconceived expectations I may have had. Well done and voted way Up!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Flourish, I thought that last line may get some comments. I appreciate you reading and your comment.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I especially liked the Italian sonnet. The last line was a real corker. Well done.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha Aneegma, I do have a few secret identities. It's hard finding a good phone booth these day though :) Wow! this must be a first, one of my hubs not making you cry. Glad I could educate you on sonnets and that you enjoyed my attempts at writing them. I think I'm just making up for all the lost time that I didn't write when I was younger, besides "age is just a number".Thank you for the vote up.

    • Aneegma profile image

      Merida Craze 3 years ago

      Good heavens John I'm beginning to suspect that you're secretly Superman pretending to be a sweet grandpa! Absolutely loved this and to be honest I had no idea about sonnets. Thank you for educating me on this. (I didn't cry this time! smiles all the way!) Excellent hub my friend. Keep 'em coming! Voted up.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Faith. What a great comment. I have thought about researching sonnets for awhile and trying to write one. Bill's dare gave me the impetuous to actually do it. I am glad you enjoyed these and the images. Hopefully you will give sonnet writing a go as well. I would be interested in hearing about your trip to Georgia to visit your mother. Sounds intriguing. I hope you do write a hub about it. I am resigned to never being awarded a HOTD. I haven't even got an EC for two years so there's no way I'm holding my breath. If any of my hubs were going to get it my Srambled Egg recipe hub would have with all my own pics..poetry doesn't stand much chance unfortunately..although this is also instructional.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading Lori, glad you enjoyed these poems. You should write some sonnets. I'm sure you'd do well.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks so much Suzette, glad the subject matter appealed to you too.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes this is certainly one of my darker hubs MsDora..I seem to switch back and forth between light and dark in my writing. Thank you for the kind words. I needed to learn about sonnets so Bill's challenge was a way of forcing me to study them. Thought I may as well share what I learned.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Kevin, if you aren't really into poetry you may find it difficult to understand a sonnet. I had to learn about them so I could write this..couldn't pass up Bill's challenge.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading Dana. I know these sonnets are a long way from my children's stories. I appreciate the kind comment.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, wow, John, your sonnets blew me away! You knocked these out of the park and what an exciting start to National Poetry Month.

      Your research paid off in a big way. I will have to go back and study all of your great research on sonnets. I like that they do sound like a song.

      Your imagery and photos are stunning. That first sonnet actually reminds me of a time in my real life when I traveled to Georgia to visit my mom and spent the night at her home, and I went into a deep sleep and then ... I realized I was not dreaming! I may write about that some day. It was a time of great spiritual warfare and I believe I ticked off the dark side ones.

      This should be HOTD, truly.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Please write more of these!

      Blessings always

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I remember studying sonnets in a poetry class years ago. Your poems were very good. Great hub. Voted up.

    • profile image

      suzettenaples 3 years ago

      Wow! What excellent sonnet writing. I enjoyed both of them and I did like the subject matter. Definitely different. Bravo!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      I'm impressed Jodah. You learn and teach the sonnet at the same time. Your sonnets are excellent with subject a little dark, but lines bright with expertise. Well done!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I read that and watched the video but I do not know what a sonnet is. All that I can say is that you seem to have done it John. I voted it up, shared , and Tweeted it.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Jackie, thanks for your praise and encouragement. I love all the challenges people set on here. It really makes me extend myself and continually try new types of writing. Glad this was educational too.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Well done John! I say your rose to the challenge and excelled!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Larry, I try to put my own unique spin on most things. Never planned on doing it to sonnets though. Glad it worked.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading Venkat, glad you enjoyed this hub and learnt more about sonnets.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great job John and like Bill I have no doubts about your talents! You can write anything you want to and always do an exceptional job. I wasn't clear on sonnets either so interesting to learn that too. Thanks for the lesson and entertainment!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      You definitely put your own spin on this age old genre.

      Great read.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very awesome presentation, John! Enjoyed the sonnets very much. Thanks for sharing them and for the great knowledge about sonnets.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Audrey, I'm collecting all the "wow" comments and gonna save them in a jar haha. Seriously thanks for your kind comment. Sometimes old forms of poetry just need to be resurrected in a way they are more relevant to today's readers. I hope I did that for these sonnets.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Wow John--particularly the first one for me--I do like it when I see poets take an old form and make it feel new again--

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hey Eric, good to see you. I didn't know they were so complex either until I decided to right a couple. Glad you like my style.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well I'll be. Never knew there was so much to a sonnet. Yours were excellent and a style I really like.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Nikki, always good to see you and glad you enjoyed.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Bill, I hope I met your challenge well enough :) You don't know how much a "blown away" comment means coming from you. Gad I was actually able to teach the teacher something. Thanks for challenging me to do this.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hey Gypsy, glad you enjoyed these sonnets and learnt a little. I can't ask for more than an "awesome" vote and share. Thanks.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I like the "wow" comment Shauna :) Thanks for reading and enjoying my sonnets. Have a great day.

    • Nikkij504gurl profile image

      Nikki Wicked 3 years ago from Louisiana

      Well done Jodah! and very informative.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You can't see me, obviously, but if you could, you would see me bowing in your direction. I am blown away. I am in awe. When I grow up I want to be just like you, John! I have no more words. You did did it well...and for dummies like me, you even explained it to us. Thank you my friend. Great job!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. Enjoyed the lesson in sonnets and your sonnets as well. Fascinating read and passing this on.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, this is awesome, John! Your explanations were clear (even if they do include unfamiliar terms). You did a fabulous job of writing sonnets. I especially like the first one.

      You da man! :-)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Jamie good to see you. I am honored that you like these sonnets as they are the first I have ever written and I know you are an accomplished exponent. Thanks for the kind comment. I look forward to reading the poems you have been working on for poetry month. I doubt I will be able to write a poem each day but I'm gad I got this one out there to start the month.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Frank, my first reader. I thought the subject matter/theme of these sonnets might appeal to you. Thanks for the great comment. Glad you enjoyed.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      What a great hub, what a great first of April treat. Thank you for these well crafted sonnets! Jamie

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      The lesson.. the behind the scenes.. nice touch.. the sonnets were to scream for..a delicately nuance on the nature of murder and suspense sonnets and photos.. Some chilly.. the gun to the mouth the cartoon boy/ghost screaming.. it just all fits..strangely beautiful my friend


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