the sonnet (from the Italian: sonars = „sound, sound “also: Sound poem) is poem - a form. The name meant “small piece of clay/tone” and in the German baroque as “sounding poem” translates

table of contents

poetic form

A sonnet consists of 14 metrically arranged verse lines, which are divided in four short Strophen in the Italian original form: two four-lines quartets or Quartinen and two itself three-line Terzette or Terzinen following to it.

The individual lines (verses) of the Italian Sonnet are Elfsilbler with usually female cadence. The jambische Pentameter in German, whose cadence can be womanlike (11 syllables, corresponds to that) or male (10 syllables).

In the Spanish and Portuguese lyric poetry the sonnet became generally speaking after Italian modeltaken over.

In the French classical period and in the first prescription ion phase in Germany during the baroque time the preferential verse measure of the Alexandriner , a sechshebiger verse with „Diärese “, was i.e. mit einer Zäsur in der Mitte, der Dramenvers der französischen Klassik.

Into the English literature the sonnet introduction held in 16. Century. Very fast the form was changed: Three quartets lead to a two-line “Couplet”; the verse measure was the jambische Pentameter with female or male cadence. The English sonnet became alsoas “Shakespeare sonnet” after his most important representative admits.

Also in Germany applies since A. W. Schlegel as ideal form the jambische Pentameter with male or female cadence and the Reimschema

abba - abba - cdc - dcd


abba - cddc -eef - if necessary

in the two Terzetten however many variants seemed, to z at all times. B.

abba - abba - ccd - eed
abba - abba - cde - cde
abba - abba - ccd - DTE

the EnglishSonnet reimte abab - cdcd - efef - gg

sonnet cycles

are often arranged several sonnets to larger cycles:

  • Tenzone: Dispute between two poets, whereby in a strict form the Reim endings of the preceding sonnet are taken up.
  • Sonnet ring: The sonnet ring is added from 14 + 1 single sonnets, whereby each sonnet takes up the final line of the preceding in the initial line. From the 14 final lines the 15te or master sonnet results in unchanged order.
  • Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes of Raymond Queneau, 1961 (literary hypertext avant la lettre)

poetic contents

of ideals contentwise structuring are:

a) (in the Italian sonnet)

  • thesis in the 1. Quartet
  • anti-thesis in 2. Quartet
  • synthesis in the Terzetten

b) (in the Italian sonnet)

  • thesis inthe quartets
  • anti-thesis in the Terzetten

C) (in the English sonnet)

  • thesis in the first two quartets
  • anti-thesis in the third quartet
  • aphorismusartige synthesis in the Couplet


beginning in Italy in 13. Century

the origin of theSonnet is appropriate in Italy the first half 13. Century. It became probably at the apulisch sizilischen yard to pilotfish of the emperor Friedrich II. 1250 ago „invented “. Here the höfische Sicilian poet school was, in the Sicilian “lingua volume-refines” Minnelyrikwrote.Giacomo there Lentini, which held a top place in the Sicilian poet school, could have been first, which used the form, thus the “inventor” of the sonnet.

The poems from the first half 13. Century pointed all the sameSample up, which was taken over later by the masters of the sonnet art, Petrarca and its successors: Sonnets consisted always of fourteen elfsilbigen verses, which into a Oktave and a Sextett was divided.

The Oktave was subject to a Zweizeilerstruktur from alternating Reimen (abababab).A rhetorical new beginning separated the two quartets (or the Oktett) and the following Terzette (or the Sextett). The Reimschema of the two Terzette was different, usually cde cde, but there were also variants.

This group of the oldest well-known sonnets covers 19Poems. Fifteen of Giacomo there Lentini, per one of Jacopo Mostacci and jetty della Vigna (also Pietro de Vinea) and two further of the abbott of the monastery Tivoli. A more exact dating of the delivered texts of the poet circle around Friedrich II.(also the emperor sealed, although no sonnets) is not possible.

Admits made the sonnet form Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374). Its poem collection, the Canzoniere, originated in in the first half 14. Century and 1470 appeared for the first time in the pressure. ThatWork, which beginning of the second large of erotischen Lyrik system of abendländischen literature history after the Minnesang, which consists dolce style nuovo, essentially of sonnets, which are addressed the poet “Madonna angelicata”, gives to Laura, on, and thereby a lastingCollecting main for numerous imitators up to the beginning 17. Century (Shakespeare). One talks about the Petrarkismus.

Petrarcas contemporary Antonio speed described already 16 Reim variants of the sonnet there in its book Summa artis rithmici. Four of these forms became laterranked among the high sonnet seal, the four kinds, which Petrarca in its Canzoniere used: the looping (abba/abba) and the alternating Reime for the Oktave, the dreireimige form (cde/cde) and the alternating form (cdc/dcd) for the Sextett.

propagation overEurope up to the German baroque

after a first bloom with Petrarca and Dante - a famous Petrarkist and sonnet poet were later also Michelangelo (1475-1564) (correctly: Michelagniolo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni) - the sonnet spread generally speaking Roman Kulturrraum, in 16.Century also in England, a little later in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. With the romance the sonnet became popular also in the slawischen countries.

Around 1500 the petrarkistische sonnet arrived to Spain (Luis de Góngora) and Portugal (Luíz Vaz de Camoes) and from there to France (Pierre de Ronsard) and Holland.

In France, as later in Germany, the sonnet form experienced a substantial change. The elfsilbige verse measure preferred by the Italians found in the Frenchno correspondence. The French poets used therefore the Alexandriner, a sechshebigen Jambus with a break in the center, which also by the German poets of the baroque one adapted.

In England there was an important sonnet culture among the poets of the elisabethanischenEpoch (Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton u.v.a.). Above all William Shakespeare (1564-1616) brought the special form of the English petrarkistischen sonnet in the year 1609 to a last bloom.

Importantly for the introduction of the sonnet to Germanywas George Rudolf Weckherlin and the Poetik of Martin Opitz. As independent meaningful form the sonnet wins however only meaning with Andreas Gryphius although in the French Alexandriner form. The Petrarkismus was however long abandoned with Gryphius. Gryphiusunited the sonnet with the goals of religious seal (for instance the Vanitasgedanken of the time) and processed in the sonnet the frights of the dreissigjährigen war.

“Sonetti the novel ski” of the Roman people poet Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli place a characteristic in the country of origin of the form (1791-1863). Belli avails itself masterfully of the old form for the purpose of a realistic reporting over its material Roman environment in far over 2000 sonnets.

the sonnet in Germany since late 18. Century

after this wedding followed oneTime, in which the überanspruchte form of the poets or the rules were avoided were consciously broken, until the form zaghaft in late 18. Century was rediscovered.

Serious significance the sonnet gained again with the poem collection of Gottfried August citizen1789. Citizen used sonnets for its to this time modern the jambischen Pentameter become by the Shakespeare Rezeption.

Its pupil August William Schlegel made the sonnet with its Poetik and for his poems an emphasized paradigm of the German romance. The topicsthe sonnet turned to art philosophy. Sonnets developed on paintings or music pieces.

Like before caused the outstanding form in addition, constant mockery. Sonnet lovers and sonnet opponents led a proper war against each other. Under these conditions also Johann Wolfgang referredby Goethe position and very successfully tried sonnets. During the antinapoleonischen liberation struggles the sonnet became the political sonnet (see. Friedrich moving RTS Geharnischte of sonnets 1814).

By boy Germany and the Vormärz became the sonnet most frequentlyused lyric form of the time.

In the so-called. Symbolism found the sonnet new evaluation by Stefan George, Hugo of Hofmannsthal and Rainer Maria Rilke (see. the sonnets at Orpheus of the latter of 1923). Also in the lyric poetry of the expressionism steppedit up; it had to against-reflect there the fall of the old values or grotesque and amusing.

Reinhold cutter set Christian convicition in the strictly arranged language of its sonnets to the criminal force against of the National Socialist state. They became at that time in a kind Samisdat spread and could be printed only after the end of the war. In and after the frights of the Second World War clasped themselves pursued and Eingekerkerte (Albrecht Haushofers Moabiter of sonnets 1946), emigrants and survivors to the strict form of the sonnet.

A real wedding did not attain the sonnet in the meantime any longer; Robert Gernhardt made itself merry also in skillful kind. While there was short blossoming of the form in the GDR still another, it disappeared nearly completely in the west. (See however below:„German living Sonnettisten “.)

German living sonnetists

seriousness Jürgen Dreyer, Ludwig Harig, HEL, Brigitte is enough, for Klaus M. Rarisch, George Milzner, Robert well-being life (see. also „the Meiendorfer of pressures “as only dt. Series of sonnet editions)


  1. Jörg Ulrich Fechner: The German sonnet. Seals - Gattungspoetik - documents. Munich 1969
  2. Schlütter, Hans Jürgen, sonnet. Collection Metzler; 177: Abbott E, Poetik, Stuttgart 1979
  3. yokes Vogt, invitation to the literature science. 3. , examined and updated edition,Munich 2002
  4. Friedhelm Kemp, the European sonnet. University writings: Munich komparatistische studies; Volume I. Goettingen 2002

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