In this essay we are going to consider his sonnets which exhibit his distinct style of writing. Iambic Pentameter English poetry at the time of Shakespeare was influenced by sonnets written in Italian style. A sonnet is basically a poem written in fourteen lines. It does not have any restriction on number of formal rhyme schemes used within. Petrarchan sonnet is defined as sonnet form popularized by Petrarch, consisting of an octave with the rhyme scheme abbaaba and of asestet with one of several rhyme schemes, as cdecde or cdcdcd. This is also known as Italian sonnet. 2 Shakespeare as writer wanted to break this confining mould. He decided to write sonnets in his own format. The style in which he wrote sonnets came to be known as iambic pentameter.
In this format he confined to writing ten lines in each sonnet. Each line was further divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet. Each feet or iamb consisted of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. Let us look at few lines from sonnet 19 in this light. Yet, do || thy worst || old Time: || despite || thy wrong, My love || shall in my || verse ever || live young. 3 The vertical separating lines inserted are for grouping of words.
If we read as per the separating line, we understand the impact caused by unstressed syllable followed by stressed one. In this was Shakespeare draws attention of the reader to the words he wants to emphasize and which convey feeling or mood of the poem. In this particular sonnet he says that time has never been kind to all of us. Time has always managed to fade beauty and youth. However beauty would be praised in the poetry written in its praise and would be immortal through words.
Generations and generations later would read these words written in praise of beauty and would see the same in their imaginations. Words would stay and stay forever. In these two lines above, do, worst, time, despite, wrong are highlighted in the structure of the line to show that time who is your worst enemy can go or do wrong to you. However in the second line poet emphasises love, my, verse, young, is stating that his love and praise will survive the tests of time and stay young and stay forever.
Thus Shakespeare conveys immortality of poetry and thought through words which are destined to stay using iambic pentameter as a powerful form and style to express. Blank verses Shakespeare used iambic pentameter in various ways. He wrote dialogues in his various plays in this style.
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