Comparison of two sonnets A sonnet is a form of a poem that originated in Europe, mainly Italy. The term sonnet derives from the Italian word sonetto, meaning “little song”. By the thirteenth century sonnets were widely used as sort of encrypted love letters written by many, but those who wrote them for a living were called sonneteers. Many tried and failed at the art of sonnet writing but the few who were successful gained much recognition for their works. One of the most well-known sonnet writers is William Shakespeare, who wrote 1 54 sonnets!
Traditional sonnets have many different features; they are written predominantly in a meter called iambic pentameter, this is a rhyme scheme in which each sonnet line consists of ten syllables. The syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet. An iamb is a unit made up of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. An example of an iamb would be goodBYE. As well as this they traditionally consist of 14 lines. Traditionally a sonnet is split into three sections: the first is a quatrain of four lines with a rhyming scheme of a b a b.
The econd is an octave which consists of seven lines with a rhyming sceme of: c d c d e f e f. The final section is called a rhyming couplet that is two lines long which has a rhyming sceme of g g. The final feature of a sonnet is that the subject matter is usually love. The first sonnet is ‘Anne Hathaway which is written by Carol Ann Duffy from the point of view of Shakespeares’ wife. It is a very passionate poem which is quite strange considering many people at the time of Shakespeare argued that Anne Hathaway and Shakespeare were not in love and only married because Anne
Hathaway became pregnant but those people may have been wrong, and we can never truly know what went on between the couple. It is a very traditional sonnet and follows all the rules it should do. For example it consists of the three sections and follows the iambic pentameter, as well as this the subject matter is quite clearly love. However there is more to this sonnet than meets the eye as it is littered with metaphors, references to Shakespeare’s’ writing abilities and the proposed love Anne Hathaway and Shakespeare had for each other.
For example the opening lines of the onnet read ‘The bed we loved in was a spinning world of forests, castles, torchlight, cliff tops, seas where we would dive for pearls. ‘ This line depicts how monumental Anne Hathaway believed her love and relationship with Shakespeare was by using such powerful aspects of nature in this phrase. This is also a metaphor. Another example of a metaphor later in the poem is ‘My lover’s words were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses on these lips’ Showing that Shakespeare’s wife has great admiration for her husband.
All through the poem there are many references in the ay of words and phrases to Shakespeare’s writing: a softer rhyme, assonance, his touch a verb dancing in the centre ofa noun, I dreamed he’d written me a page beneath his writer’s hands. All of these examples make a link between the way the couple love each other and how he writes. The closing lines of the poem: ‘In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on, dribbling their prose. My living laughing love – I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head as he held me upon that next best bed. Indicate that the couple are in the second best bed and their best bed is rese uests showing that they are happy where they are because they are with one another. The second sonnet is ‘On my first Sonne’ by Ben Jonson. Ben Jonson’s son died at the mere age of seven. In the first two lines, “Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy; my sin was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy,” we see that Jonson held Ben close to his heart. He loved his son dearly, and he had very high hopes of him in the future.
In fact, he states that it was a sin for him to have so much hope of his son. He realizes that putting anything so high that it might be higher than God on his List of Importance is a sin, and a very hazardous one at that. Then he says that, “Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay, exacted by thy fate, on the Just day. ” This is how we knew his son was seven when he died. Here Jonson is admitting that life is a gift from God, something to be cherished and appreciated while we have it.
Also language associated with money is used quite a lot Next, he says, “Oh, could I lose all father now! For why will man lament the state he should envvy? ” No parent should ever have to bury their child. Line five truly embodies Jonson’s grief over the loss of his young boy. Jonson ends this poem by saying that if anyone asks who is in the grave, he would answer that in it lays the best thing he has ever had a part in making, better than any of his poetry and that he will not like anything too much anymore.
This poem is different from traditional sonnets because it is only 12 lines long as appose to 14 and because of this the octet, sestet and couplet do not follow the usual line formation. However the iambic pentameter is followed as in traditional sonnets. The onnet has a rather sombre tone. This sonnet could be used to show how short life can be, and we should make the most of what we have been given while we still have it.
These two sonnets differ considerably in underlying meaning, representation of love, choice of language and structure. Perhaps the most important and noticeable difference between the sonnets is the type of love being written about, in ‘Anne Hathaway Carol Anne Duffy describes a fiery and cherished love Anne Hathaway has for her husband and lover. Whereas In ‘On my first Sonne’ Ben Jonson writes from a egretful point of view about a love taken for granted and his duty to God not to hold anything higher than him.
Anne Hathaway is characterized as grateful and adoring of her husband but Ben Jonson is saddened and almost lonely because of his dearest son’s death. In both poems the choice of language tends to go along with certain themes: in Anne Hathaway language to do with writing in a mood of grateful happiness on the other hand On my first Sonne the language used is that to do with money and religion written in a sorrowful mourning frame of mind, in each poem the easons behind the writers’ shown moods are clear.
Finally the last main difference between the two poems is the structure. Although both of the sonnets follow the iambic pentameter however in ‘On my first Sonne’ the structure is different from traditional sonnets (like Anne Hathaway) because it is only 12 lines long as appose to 14 and because of this the octet, sestet and couplet do not follow the usual line formation. To conclude, both sonnets represent love and the loss that inevitably comes with it in very different yet accurate ways, showing its deep importance in our lives.