Outer structure

The outer structure or composition of William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 29” can be divided into various elements such as rhyme and meter. We outline the details here.

The sonnet form

“Sonnet 29” follows the structure of the English sonnet. This genre was originally invented in Italy in the 13th century where it was used for love poetry. In the 16th century, an English version of the sonnet form was developed, and this is also referred to as the Shakespearean sonnet.

The English sonnet has fourteen lines, which are divided into three quatrains (four-line stanzas) followed by a couplet (two-line stanza). The aim of the couplet is to underline the thoughts presented in the quatrains. This can be said of “Sonnet 29”, too, as the last two lines underline the speaker’s shift in perspective and realization that his beloved is a source of joy for him which lifts him out of his despair.

Rhyme scheme, rhythm, and meter

The sonnet always follows a strict rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. An extract from “Sonnet 29” illustrates this:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, E
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, F
(Like to the lark at break of day arising E
From sullen earth) sings hymns at hea...

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