Keats' Poems and Letters
Form as Strategy: Keats's On the Sonnet and Bright Star
Form as Strategy: Keats's "On the Sonnet" and "Bright Star"
"On the Sonnet" is a poem that deplores convention, flouts convention, is governed by convention, and recuperates convention. It is neither a proper Petrarchan poem nor a Shakespearean sonnet; both forms, however, serve as references for the poem. "On the Sonnet" has five rhymes, as in the Petrarchan form, but they are distributed with a seeming randomness, and do not mark structural shifts. Rhetorically, the poem gestures to both the Shakespearean and the Petrarchan forms. As in a Shakespearean sonnet, its argument is organized in short imagistic units, and it closes with two final, epigrammatic lines that form a couplet not through rhyme but through syntactical structure. While a Shakespearean sonnet is organized 4+4+4+2, Keats's sonnet is organized 3+3+3+3+2. Again, I speak of syntactic organization, unmarked by rhyme, but this numerical scheme is echoed by a rhyme scheme in which four of the five end-sounds appear three times, and the fifth only twice (ABC ABD CAB CDE DE; spaces represent syntactical divisions). The poem also gestures to a larger, two-part Petrarchan structure, as the timbre of its image-set shifts in...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 840 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6259 literature essays, 1739 sample college application essays, 251 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in