Three sources viewed here:
The Spenserian Sonnet was named for Edmund Spenser 1552-1599, a 16th century English Poet. The Spenserian Sonnet inherited the tradition of the declamatory couplet of Wyatt / Surrey although Spenser used Sicilian quatrains to develop a metaphor, conflict, idea or question logically, with the declamatory couplet resolving it.
Beyond the prerequisite for all sonnets, the defining features of the Spenserian Sonnet are:
- a quatorzain made up of 3 Sicilian quatrains (4 lines alternating rhyme) and ending in a rhyming couplet
- metric, primarily iambic pentameter.
- rhymed, rhyme scheme ababbcbccdcdee.
- composed with a volta (a non physical gap) or pivot (a shifting or tilting of the main line of thought) sometime after the 2nd quatrain. The epiphany is arrived at logically.
- written with each quatrain developing a metaphor, conflict, idea or question, and the end declamatory couplet providing the resolution.
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away;
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide and made my pains his prey.
“Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise
“Not so.” quod I, “Let baser thing devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame;
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize
And in the heavens write your glorious name,
Where, when as death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
——Sir Edmund Spenser
Fresh Spring! the herald of Loves mighty king,
In whose coat-armour richly are displayed
All sorts of flowers, the which on earth do spring
In goodly colours gloriously arrayed –
Go to my love, where she is careless laid,
Yet in her winters bower, not well awake;
Tell her the joyous time will not be staid,
Unless she do him by the forelock take:
Bid her, therefore, herself soon ready make
To wait on Love amongst his lovely crew,
Where every one that misseth then her make,
Shall be by him amerced with penance dew.
Make haste, therefore, sweet Love! whilst it is prime;
For none can call again the passed time.
—- Edmund Spenser 1552-1599
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.
Type: Structure, Metrical Requirement, Rhyme Scheme Requirement, Simple, Pivot Requirement
Description: This sonnet is arranged as three quatrains and a couplet using rhyme to help interlink. There is a pivot, a change of meaning or direction, that usually occurs in the sonnet at the ninth line. It was developed by Edmund Spenser.
Attributed to: Edmund Spenser
Schematic: The rhyme scheme is: abab bcbc cdcd ee.
Rhythm/Stanza Length: 14
Line/Poem Length: 14
Pasted from http://www.poetrybase.info/forms/002/287.shtml
My thanks to Charles L. Weatherford for his years of work on the wonderful Poetrybase resource.
Rhyme Scheme and Meter
Spenserian forms often employ an intricate, interlocked rhyme scheme, with the favored iambic pentameter serving as the rhythm. These poems are often more difficult to write than a form like the Shakespearean, or English, sonnet, which does not call for as many repeated rhymes. The two main forms of Spenserian poems — the stanza and the sonnet — both slightly vary from existing forms, such as the French ballade and the Petrarchan sonnets. You might want to practice writing in iambic pentameter or follow an easier form like a ballad or Shakespearean sonnet before attempting the Spenserian forms. Also, don’t forget you can use half or “slant” rhymes rather than forcing perfect rhymes.
The “Spenserian stanza,” used in Spenser’s poem “The Faerie Queen,” is comprised of eight lines in iambic pentameter and a ninth line, called an alexandrine, with 12 syllables and primary stresses on syllables six and 12. The Spenserian stanza rhymes ABABBCBCC, a very similar scheme to the French ballade and the Italian ottava rima. The repeated rhymes make the form difficult to write, especially in rhyme-poor languages like English. The ninth line of the Spenserian stanza serves to complete the idea presented in the first eight lines of the stanza. Start practicing writing lines in iambic pentameter followed by lines of 12 syllables before trying to tackle the form and the rhyme scheme at once.
The form known as the Spenserian sonnet combines elements from other sonnet forms. This form utilizes only five rhymes, similar to the Petrarchan sonnet, but follows a structure more akin to the Shakespearean sonnet, with three quatrains followed by a couplet. The Spenserian sonnet follows the rhyme scheme, ABAB BCBC CDCD EE, and is written in iambic pentameter. While the “turn” in a Petrarchan sonnet occurs around the ninth line, the realization occurs in the final couplet of a Spenserian sonnet. Spenser often threw in a false turn by using words like “yet” or “but” around the ninth line, but the true resolution or revelation occurs in the final two lines.
The turn, also called the “volta,” is an important component of the sonnet form, and even the alexandrine at the end of a Spenserian stanza provides a kind of relief or conclusion to the previous lines. It might be useful to write sonnets in both Petrarchan and Shakespearean forms prior to writing a Spenserian sonnet — practice the Petrarchan form to improve your rhyme scheme, but train with the Shakespearean sonnet to work on effective turns in the final couplet. The interlocking rhymes of a Spenserian sonnet act as glue between the quatrains, but the new rhyme in the couplet packs a punch.
Pasted from <http://education.seattlepi.com/write-spenserian-poem-5031.html
My thanks to education.seattlepi.com for the above.
Tell Me of Your Anger in Whispers (Spenserian Sonnet)
Should you be moved to speak in anger dear
I ask that first you test your words alone.
You’ll want to be assured your meaning’s clear.
Sometimes context will change with spoken tone.
If anger stems from blunders of my own
There’s nothing risked delaying words that grate.
I’ll be contrite as in the past I’ve shown
so wait, my love for anger to abate.
In calmness we can set the record straight
I think harsh words will simply disappear
when dulcet tones from you do emanate.
Your goal will be achieved I think, my dear.
My love, use whispers closely late tonight.
I love you, honey; I will make it right.
(c) Lawrencealot – March, 2012