Sonnet 18 Enrichment Activities
Visit the following website to read paraphrases of "Sonnet 18:"
At first glance, this paraphrase is much easier to understand than the poem itself, so why bother with the poetic form in the first place? Why do you think Shakespeare chose to communicate his message in a sonnet? Try reading the sonnet out loud and then reading the paraphrase out loud. What do you notice? Do you hear a sense of rhythm and music in the language of the poem that is absent from the language of the paraphrase? What is it about poetry that has made so many people want to write and read it throughout history?
A Closer Look at Rhyme Scheme
A sonnet is a 14-line poem that follows a specific structure and rhyme scheme. There are a number of different types of sonnets. "Sonnet 18" is an English or Shakespearian sonnet, which means that it follows the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. If you're not familiar with this way of describing rhyme scheme, look back at the sonnet and try to figure out what this sequence of letters means. Pay particular attention to the sounds at the end of each line of poetry.
To see a different kind of poem that also uses rhyme, visit the following webpage and read "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," by Robert Frost.
Now try writing a sequence of letters to describe the rhyme scheme of Frost's poem, just as the Shakespearian rhyme scheme is described above. To check your work, visit this web page:
Reading Iambic Pentameter
Visit the following website for an explanation of the meter, or rhythm, of "Sonnet 18" and other Shakespearian sonnets:
Did you get a sense of the iambic pentameter rhythm? When you look back through "Sonnet 18," can you hear in your mind the way Shakespeare's lines conform to iambic pentameter?
It is important to keep in mind that even though a poem is written in iambic pentameter, it is not necessarily meant to be read aloud with strict emphasis on that rhythm. In other words, when you read "Sonnet 18" aloud, try to sound as natural as possible, placing your vocal emphasis according to the meaning of each phrase, as people do in everyday speech. Visit the following web page to hear "Sonnet 18" read aloud in a natural way:
Now try reading the sonnet aloud in a way that makes sense to you.