Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry

Caudate sonnet

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A caudate sonnet is an expanded version of the sonnet. It consists of 14 lines in standard sonnet forms followed by a coda (Latin cauda meaning "tail", from which the name is derived).

The invention of the form is credited to Francesco Berni. According to the Princeton Encylopedia of Poetry, the form is most frequently used for satire, such as the most prominent English instance, John Milton's "On the New Forcers of Conscience Under the Long Parliament."

Gerard Manley Hopkins used the form in a less satirical mood in his "That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire." The poem is one of many in which Hopkins experimented variations on sonnet form. However, unlike the curtal sonnet, a Hopkins invention which is a 10-line form with precisely the same proportions as a Petrarchan sonnet, his caudate sonnet is a full sonnet unmodified but with an extra six lines. Hopkins heightens the effect of the extension with an enjambement from the 14th line to the 15th.


  • The New Princeton Encylopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Ed. Alex Preminger and T.V.F. Brogan. Princeton UP, 1993.

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