Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnets and Shakespearean sonnets are the two basic varieties of sonnets (or English or Elizabethan). Both include fourteen lines of iambic pentameter and a distinct rhyme pattern. However, they differ in many other ways as well.
Shakespeare's sonnets use a more flexible structure than Petrarchan sonnets. They do not have to follow the traditional form of three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet. Instead, each sonnet has an independent structure that can vary greatly from the usual formal pair of quatrains and closing rhyming couplet. This allows for great freedom in how the poet can develop ideas and images within the context of a sonnet.
Petrarchan sonnets are rigid in their structure. They always begin with an exposition of some kind which often describes or portrays a person or thing followed by a series of questions about this subject. The last part of the sonnet contains a resolution of some kind where the poet answers or comments on the question(s) raised in the first part of the poem. These resolutions usually include words such as "fame", "honour", or "love".
The majority of sonnets fall into two of two categories:
The following three characteristics are shared by all sonnets: They are 14 lines long, rhyme regularly, and have a rigorous metrical form, generally iambic pentameter. Sonnets are most commonly written in English, but they have also been written in French, Latin, and other languages.
In terms of length, sonnets are usually between fourteen and twenty-two lines long. Some examples of famous sonnets: "Sonnet 18" by William Shakespeare, "A Lover's Complaint" by John Donne, and "My Heart to My Muse Hymneth" by George Herbert.
Sonnets were originally poems written for the entertainment of others. Today, however, they are often published on their own merit. Some famous contemporary poets who have produced notable sonnets include John Donne, Michael Drayton, Christopher Marlowe, and Robert Browning.
Sonnets share several characteristics with other types of poetry. They use language carefully to convey meaning and express emotion. Like other poetic forms, sonnets can be about any subject matter that interests the poet, but they usually deal with love or love's loss.
Sonnets were first widely read and appreciated in England around 1591.
Iambic pentameter denotes that each line has 10 syllables in five pairs, with accent on the second syllable in each pair. Thus, sonnets are written in an alternating pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Stressed and unstressed syllables play an important role in sonnets. Stressed syllables get more attention from the poet. An example is "Shakespeare" - a surname you might think would be easy to stress, but actually not because it's often spelled with no accent marks (so it's treated as one syllable). Unstressed syllables don't get much attention at all. In fact, they're sometimes ignored completely, as in this sonnet by Emily Dickinson: "I felt my life was over, gone, done;/ I knew no good could come of me;/ For evil seems to lie within me,/ And I feel now how empty, vain, and wide/ Is the world I touch with my poor hands."
Dickinson was a great American poet who wrote many beautiful sonnets. She was only 53 when she died. Today, her work is still read and loved by many people around the world.
Sonnets were first written down in England about 1510.
Sonnet 18 is a conventional English or Shakespearean sonnet, with 14 lines in iambic pentameter divided into three quatrains and a couplet. It also contains the usual rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The poem is written in the rhetorical style of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet.
The first line states that "the world's a stage" and this concept forms the theme of the whole sonnet. This means that life is like a play and we should use it as an opportunity to show our talents and make the most out of it.
Also relevant is the fact that Italy was known for its theater at the time Shakespeare wrote these poems. Therefore, the idea that the world is a stage is not new and it ties in with the Italian culture at the time.
Finally, note that the last line of the sonnet begins with the letter "G", which stands for "good". Thus, the whole sonnet is saying that use your life well and it will be good.
These are just some possible explanations for the meaning of Sonnet 18. There are many other possibilities so see what you think it means.