Types of Poetry #2: Sonnets, Rondeau, and Pastoral

To continue my research on the different types of poetry, I delved into four more types: English sonnets, Italian sonnets, rondeau, and pastoral poems.

Let’s begin with sonnets. For the most part, sonnets are written with a problem or idea in mind. Common themes found in sonnets are love, war, hardship, and change. Often times, poets give opinions on social issues or try to answer questions about life itself. Sonnets are made up of four stanzas: quatrain, sestet, octave, and rhyming couplet. A quatrain is a four line stanza, a sestet is a six line stanza, an octave is an eight line stanza, and a rhyming couplet is a consecutive two line stanza that must rhyme. Sonnets are also written with iambic pentameter, meaning that the the second word has more stress than the first. This creates a rise and fall to the sound of the sonnet, especially when spoken aloud. In addition, poetic devices are often used to paint more of a picture for the reader. There are two main types of sonnets, English and Italian. I will begin with an English sonnet.

An English sonnet, also known as a Shakespearean sonnet, is composed of three quatrain stanzas followed by a rhyming couplet. The volta, or resolution, takes place at the end of the sonnet during the rhyming couplet. English sonnets have a looser rhyme scheme. They normally follow a particular pattern: ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG.

Here is my example of an English sonnet about war:

The bombs thunder above

With no relief from the sound

As though the night sky is in love

With the cacophony ringing through the compound.


The stars are hidden

By the illuminated explosion

In territory that is forbidden

And our hearts suffer corrosion.


Our flag still stands tall

But as the night rages on

We worry that it will fall

As this battle is just a pawn.


Yet the sun breaks ground

And we are finally sent home-bound.


On the other side, Italian sonnets, also known as Petrarchan sonnets, are made of an octave and then a sestet. Typically, the octave introduces the problem and the sestet defines the resolution. The rhyme scheme of an Italian sonnet is ABBA, ABBA, CDCDCD.

This is my example of an Italian sonnet also about war:

Waiting at home for news

Never knowing if he is safe

Or is stuck in a country as a waif

I wait at home for him to finish his dues.


Our men should be able to refuse

Being sent to a world governed by strafe

Unrelenting and unsafe

All I can do is pray for some news.


I think back to the days when he was young

And I could hear his loud snores

Where he was just my son

With his best friend living next door

And all day they would play with BB guns

But now they’re off at war.


A rondeau poem is a poem with either ten, thirteen, or fifteen lines that have repeated rhyme throughout. In a rondeau, the first few words or phrase from the beginning of the poem is repeated throughout as a sort of refrain. It doesn’t have to be in this particular order, but here is a typical rhyme scheme where the repeated line is bolded: AABBAAABAAABBAA.

Here is my example based on singing:

Singing throughout the day

As though I am on Broadway.

For me, it creates a world

With paws accepting and uncurled.

I stay on the path to not stray

While opening my airways.

Doing so creates a display

For my audience to enter a dreamworld.

Singing throughout the day

I make no one pay.

For all I want to do is sway their hearts in a way

That leaves them feeling swirled.

As though they are hurled into a new world

One that is always happy and gay,

Singing throughout the day.


The final type of poem I learned about for this blog was pastoral poems. Pastoral poems are about rural life, typically pastures (hence the name), and present this life in a peaceful, and often romantic way. Most poets writing pastoral poems were not from the country and focused their poems on idealistic rather than realistic statures. These types of poems are often looked on as a more Utopian way of life compared to inner city living. This style of poetry often has a free verse feel to it, in that there is no particular structure to the poem.

Below is my pastoral poem:

Life and death appear as one

In a field of innocence

Uncorrupted by society

With love for nature.


The shepherd’s love

For his sheep

Is returned by their loyalty

For him.


A world separate from evil

Blessed by the family values

Found in the shepherd’s wife

And children as they grow.


For an untouched world

Remains in such a state

Until corruption rears its ugly head

And the sheep die.


Cover Photo Credit: Pixabay


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