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Poetry Guide: Petrarchan sonnet

A Petrarchan sonnet, also called the Italian sonnet, is a sonnet comprising an octave and a closing sestet. The octave is composed of two quatrains following the form abba. The sonnet has a volta between the octave and the sestet. This volta, or 'change', means that the subject or viewpoint or other important aspect of the sonnet will change between the opening octave and closing sestet. The poems usually follow the rhyme scheme abba abba cde cde, abba abba cd cd cd, and even abba abba cce dde and abba abba cdd cee or abba abba cd ec de.

It was named for Petrarch, the Italian poet, and was later adapted into the Shakespearean sonnet in England.

See also