Sonnet studies

Iambic pentameter
Octave • Sestet
Quatrain • Couplet
Sonnet writers


Petrarchan sonnet
Spenserian sonnet
Shakespearean sonnet
Petrarch's and Shakespeare's sonnets


Caudate sonnet • Curtal sonnet
Demi-sonnet • Pushkin sonnet


Crown of sonnets • Sonnet cycle
Sonnet redoublé
Sonnet sequence

How to ...

Write a sonnet
Write a sonnet like Shakespeare

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Octave is the generic name for any 8-line poem or stanza, regardless of rhyme or meter. Examples include:[1]

  • Canzonetta. Rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-c-d-c-D (Or prima canzonetta, a-b-a-b-c-b-c-B - capital letter signals refrain). No specified meter.
  • Common octave (or Hymnal octave). Rhyme scheme a-b-c-b-a-b-c-b. Common meter.
  • Huitain. Rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-b-c-b-c or a-b-a-b-a-c-a-c. Eight-syllable or ten-syllable lines.
  • Italian octave. Rhyme scheme a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a. no specified meter (Iambic pentameter (IP) in English).
  • Ottava rima. Rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c. No specified meter (IP in English).
  • Sicilian octave. Rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b. No specified meter (IP in English).
  • Strambutto Tuccano. Rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c. Hendecasyllables.
  • Strambutto Siciliano. Rhyme scheme a-b-a-b-a-b-a-b. Hendecasyllables.

In sonnetEdit

An octave is also the first 8-line part of an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet (which ends with a contrasting 6-line sestet). In traditional Italian sonnets the octave always develops and concludes one idea, which gives way to another idea in the sestet. While different sestets were used by Italian sonneteers, most used the Italian octave (which rhymes a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a).

See alsoEdit

Two other octave forms with Italian origins:


  1. Terry Clitheroe, "Eight line poetry Forms," The Poet's Garrett, Web, Aug. 1, 2011.

External linksEdit

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