Manifesting Sonnet

A few weeks ago, I spent the better part of a day submitting poetry via Submittable. Here are the results.

I received three rejections quickly due to my “tipping” a few dollars.

I received one “acceptance” of a four-poem collection to a literary review a couple of days ago. It may be defined as contemporary free verse, free of most punctuation.

One six-page poem is under consideration in a poetry contest at a literary journal in British Columbia.

One of the reasons I enjoyed studying poetry at university, (and still enjoy studying it), is learning classical forms such as the Sonnet. I was briefly exposed to Shakespearean sonnets in high school while reading his plays, but I didn’t realize that some people still write them. Also, I was only interested in writing free verse at the time. Very few lit. journals publish them, but some are so well-crafted and pertinent, that they find their way into the recent canon and are discussed in university. One example is The Facebook Sonnet.

The Shakespearean Sonnet

The Shakespearean Sonnet has 14 lines. It has three quatrains (three sets of four lines) and ends with a couplet (two lines). The final couplet has a turn which “clicks” into place the final punch-line or thought which is often a result of or contrary to the proceeding thoughts.

The rhyme scheme is ABABCDCDEFEFGG.

There are five basic types of poetic measure: iamb, trochee, spondee, anapest, and dactyl.

The meters with two-syllable feet are

  • IAMBIC (x /) : That time of year thou mayst in me behold
  • TROCHAIC (/ x): Tell me not in mournful numbers
  • SPONDAIC (/ /): Breakbreakbreak/ On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!

Meters with three-syllable feet are

  • ANAPESTIC (x x /): And the sound of a voice that is still
  • DACTYLIC (/ x x): This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlock (a trochee replaces the final dactyl)*

Oh, so very Canadian wth the fluid back-and-forth use of meter (metre) and foot. :->

Iambic pentameter, which is the line-length Shakespeare used for his sonnets, means there are five (penta) measures, or beats.

Here is a very poor example of a rough-draft sonnet which I wrote. My sonnets tend to come out sounding like they were written two-hundred years ago by a drunk poet. (You have to read ‘manifestation’ as one beat.)

Manifesting Sonnet

D. Bentley, 2020

Is the universe so daft it needs our visions?

of the manifestation desired by our selfish wills.

Or rather are our futures pre-existing,

only donned by our step forward to tomorrow?

All visions, hopes, prayers, and day-dreaming

meet mid-air becoming our life’s elixer,

adjusted by a greater seeing mighty ‘ponent,

rend comfort with a balancing and blend.

Of misfortune, suffering, illness, and ill fatings,

when through such turmoil we do ‘ventually endure

as birthed from dross and through fires which

surely do cleanse and cause to clarify.

When strivings cease and contentment stills the heart

one finds all blessings are already possessed.

Well, that attempt is a bit of a mess; also, there is no rhyme. I did try to end with a “turn” or click-lock.

Here is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 with the beats marked. The “up” lines show where the emphasis is when reading.

Similar to the Shakespearean Sonnet, the Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet has iambic pentameter and consists of an octave, or 8-line stanza, followed by a sestet, or 6-line stanza.

The octave sets up a situation upon which the sestet comments. Alternatively, the octave makes a statement, the sestet a counter statement as in the following example by John Milton:

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

John Milton

A third type of sonnet is the Spencerian Sonnet. Perhaps I will write one for next time.


Poetry is beautiful and fun.

  1. Thank you to the University of Pennsylvania for the information on poetic feet/meters/metres.
  3. laura-chouette-iF3nn-mXkU8-unsplash.jpg

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