A sonnet is a fourteen-line lyric poem, traditionally written in iambic pentameter—that is, in lines ten syllables long, with accents falling on every second syllable, as in: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Shakespeare divided his sonnets into four parts. The first three parts are each four lines long, and are known as quatrains, rhymed ABAB; meaning the first line rhymes with the third line, and the second line rhymes with the fourth line. The fourth, and final part of the sonnet is two lines long and is called the couplet. The couplet is rhymed CC, meaning the last two lines rhyme with each other. The Shakespearean sonnet is often used to develop a sequence of metaphors or ideas, one in each quatrain, while the couplet offers either a summary or a new take on the preceding images or ideas. In addition to using the sonnet form in plays such as
Romeo and Juliet
, Shakespeare wrote more than 140 sonnets independent of his plays.