Is Shakespeare still a model for sonneteersHello, This is my first post here. I want to know if there are people who still take Shakespeare as their primary model for poetic style - that is, folk...

Is Shakespeare still a model for sonneteers


This is my first post here.

I want to know if there are people who still take Shakespeare as their primary model for poetic style - that is, folk who write or want to write sonnets and thus need some points of reference.

Also, considering that Shakespeare lived a few centuries ago, and our speech has changed a fair bit since, how out-of-place would sonnets written on such a model seem to you? Let's say, we are making some minimum common-sense updates to the lexicon - such as using 'you' and not 'thou' etc; but otherwise using Shakespeare style as the model.




Expert Answers
stefaniecpeters eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's worth noting that poets who have been inspired by Shakespeare's sonnets would probably not try to imitate the early modern English that Shakespeare wrote in--including the "thee"s and "thou"s that you mention. But of course the intense, packed-in imagery that Shakespeare uses have caught the imaginations of many readers and writers throughout the past four centuries, beginning with Milton in his first published poem, "On Shakespeare". I would also suggest you look at John Keats's "Sonnet. Written On A Blank Page In Shakespeare's Poems, Facing 'A Lover's Complaint'."

Shakespeare's Sonnets have had an uneasy reception ever since they were first published. You will probably find that modern writers, including Beckett and Pinter, find more to inspire in Shakespeare's plays than in his poems.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Shakespearean sonnet form is yet employed by modern poets.  However, most of the sonneteers of the twentieth century were Americans, notably several were African-Americans such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Claude McKay, and Gwendolyn Brooks, whose "The Sonnet-Ballad" follows the traditional rhyme scheme of Shakespeare's sonnets as well as the form, whereas other sonneteers have varied their rhyme schemes.

Robert Frost, for instance, has written several sonnets. His and other poet's sonnets can be read on the following site: 

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree!  I often have my students attempt to model Shakespeare, Spenser, or Petrarch (they can choose) and the sonnet formats they made famous.  It is much more difficult that it first seems to eliminate all the unnecessary words to come to the purest form of meaning AND still stick to the rhyme scheme and meter of the sonnet.  It is quite the challenge, and as long as humans exist, Shakespeare will be there to encourage us to flirt with words and meaning as he did.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Indeed, Shakespearean Sonnets can still be used as a representation of how to "pack" a poem with so much in way of lyric fluidity and powerful, compelling thoughts.  In my mind, some of the strongest elements of Shakespearean Sonnets is the idea of being able to express emotional truths in a small number of lines.  The succinct and intense nature of what is revealed makes Shakespearean Sonnets a model for anyone to follow.

astuart100 | Student


One wee point I'd make here: I didn't mean Shakespearean sonnets as much as Shakespeare's sonnets. I was talking about the man himself and his style, rather than the form that takes his name. But I guess most people did get my point.

Thanks for the replies so far, and look forward to more inputs (and this insights!)

I am delighted I cam across this site and look forward to some interesting discussion here.


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Shakespeare's Sonnets

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