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How to Write Poems: A Shakespearean Sonnet With Examples

Updated on August 2, 2013

Amidst a maze I saw you standing there,

Flutter of gold letters like fairies’ shine,

Mine eyes beckoned and trapped, your back laid bare.

I reach out and up to clasp the divine.

Smooth leather enwraps the unknown inside,

I crack your spine. My eyes begin their race,

Left, right, down, and up all that you confide.

I can take you or leave without a trace.

But though it seems an easy choice to make,

Another stands to take your berth and face

Head on others who wish to see it take

Over the bookshelf and books in your space.

Knowledge can live in a device with looks,

But we will never tire of fair, old books.

Shakespearean Sonnet

This is my second attempt ever at writing a Shakespearean sonnet. How to write a Shakespearean sonnet can be broken down into just a few simple rules, although it can be a little difficult to actually achieve.

1. It must be 14 lines total

2. It must be in iambic pentameter

3. It must be written in the rhyme scheme that follows:


Here is where it really starts to get complicated. Each corresponding letter represents a line that must end with a word that rhymes with each other (A with A and B with B). For example, in my own sonnet above, "there" in the first line rhymes with "bare" in the third while "shine" in the second line rhymes with "divine" in the fourth. Every four lines is a quatrain and the last two is a couplet.

4. The sonnet must follow a structure.

This part branches off of the last one because it deals with what you should say in each quatrain and your couplet. The following is a basic idea of what this structure is:

First quatrain: Give the reader your main metaphor and theme (usually within the first line or two)

Second quatrain: The theme and metaphor is made even more complicated and interesting

Third quatrain: Here things get really snazzy with the peripeteia. Basically, this is where things suddenly change and a twist is added to the sonnet. Now it gets interesting. Usually, the first line of this quatrain starts with "but" but this isn't actually a requirement.

Couplet: Here is where you summarize it all and leave the reader with one last nugget of thought before they go. It's easier than the rest because it's shorter and it's also much more to the point.

Who Best to Learn From Than The Master Himself?

Sonnet 47

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other:
When that mine eye is famish'd for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
With my love's picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart;
Another time mine eye is my heart's guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part:
So, either by thy picture or my love,
Thy self away, art present still with me;
For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee;
Or, if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
Awakes my heart, to heart's and eyes' delight.

William Shakespeare

© 2011 Lisa


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    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Pretending to read, fair Ophelia

      My eyes were drawn to your visage dear

      White lace and in your hair, camelia

      My heart racing wildly, I fear you hear

      We meet amongst these tomes of yesterday

      By design or habit the times we share

      I know the love that compels me to stay

      I cannot tell if you know I am there

      So rapt are you in the book you've chosen

      On a pirate's ship or a carriage ride

      To a castle charmed while I lie frozen

      Only to my own book do I confide

      But close enough that I smell the camelia

      Lost in the love of the bibli Ophelia


    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 6 years ago from Austin, TX


    • emichael profile image

      emichael 6 years ago from New Orleans

      Very good sonnet!

      "Knowledge can live in a device with looks,

      But we will never tire of fair, old books."

      Love it.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Hi Lisa: This is well-written and well-composed. I enjoyed reading this. You explain how to write a sonnet very well. Yes, books are something we can all have a love affair with. I love the photo. Voted up!

    • Nefarious_Misery profile image

      Nefarious_Misery 6 years ago from on the move

      Nicely written, that's a great picture too! Informative with the Shakespere as well. Voted up.