Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Poetry at laterlife  - The Sonnet


Poetry at Laterlife

Click to return to Introduction to Poetry at Laterlife


Ronnie Goodyer, editor of Poetry at Laterlife, has had hundreds of poems, sketches and articles published, including several as Featured Poet, plus appearances in galleries and exhibitions.

Click for Ronnie's Biography

    Print Your Own Work


The Sonnet


So, let’s straight away get to the doyen of formal verse – THE SONNET. Someone once wrote that every poet should try to write a sonnet at some time in their life. My first attempts were pretty bad as I was so intent on getting it technically correct it looked like a rule book! No flow, no rhythm, no great subject matter either! Now, there are many variations of sonnet, but for our purpose we’ll go with the bard himself – the Shakespearian Sonnet, sometimes, appropriately enough, called the English Sonnet. These are written in Iambic Pentameter. Nothing complicated here – an iamb is two syllables where the stress or emphasis is (normally) on the second syllable, such as goodbye, (good / bye,) two syllables. Pentameter means there are five of them in a line, so in our case, five good / bye’s. I was first shown it as Di-DUM! So the ten syllable line would be


Not poetical, (more like the Pink Panther theme!) but you get the point. Ten syllables to a line. And how many lines? Fourteen. The first twelve lines have a rhyme scheme of abab / cdcd / efef and the final two, forming a conclusion, are rhyming couplets, gg. So, the first line rhymes with the third, the second with the fourth etc. Here is a well-known example from the man himself:


         Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?          a
         Though art more lovely and more temperate:    b
         Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, a
         And summer’s leashe hath all too short a date: b

You can see how that flows and follows a rhythmical beat.


Shall I / Compare / thee to / a sum- / mer’s day?


Read that with the Di-DUM beat and then normally. You’ll see how it fits into place.

There’s only one way to follow the bard – so here’s one I made earlier! Firstly, of course, I had a subject for the poem. It was an old friend I hadn’t seen for ages and have now lost complete touch with. A sonnet seemed the perfect form, I am so glad I took the trouble to write it, and here it is in its entirety. You will see the twelve lines with the described rhyming pattern and the last two, the summary, couplets:


Dunnabridge Revisited


Late July, leaning on the wooden gate,
I thought of you in your far Celtic land
and how that first twist of the knife saw fate
so determined that it would lend a hand.
Fresh sunlight and the sanctity of wood,
grass heavy with birthing seed at my feet,
brought back strong memories of days we would
cross over old Dunnabridge Pound and meet.
Sometimes, like children, we’d blow on ripe grass,
or just lie in the flowering meadow,
seeing how quickly long days seemed to pass
until called home by the sun’s long shadow.

Here today I’m left with longing and smiles,
thinking of you across the flying miles.


Your turn


Now, on the basis that if I can do it, you can do it, I invite you to create a sonnet and email to me at poetry at laterlife. Some of you will be experienced poets and have sonnets in your portfolio, others will be starting now. This is the whole point. Whichever you are, please just check to make sure it is technically correct, with good scansion, rhythm and meter. I hope the examples given contain all of those – it should read well. Also, the subject matter should be one that will have general interest for others visiting our site.


Please email with ‘pal sonnet’ as the heading (pal = poetry at laterlife). Paste the sonnet into the body of the email (not attachment) together with your name (and address if you wish). I will publish a selection in a pal poets section on this site. I may reply to some with suggestions if I think there is quality but room for a little improvement. I look forward to reading your submissions.




Here at poetry at laterlife we will be continuing our series of verse forms. There is no hard and fast order with this agenda so if there is anything you are particularly interested in, just drop me a line. Also forthcoming will be themed competitions with various awards and, subject to demand, our own anthologies. Although it is well in advance, one scheme is to publish an anthology prior to Christmas to give personal gift opportunities. Details of this will be forthcoming shortly.




Please send submissions, comments, queries to me at:


ensuring that you use pal as part of the email heading.

If you would like to receive details of Reach poetry magazine, The Dawntreader literary magazine or current Indigo Dreams Press poetry competitions please email with specific interest to:


Good luck with your creativity and I look forward to welcoming you as a laterlife poet.



back to laterlife interest

Site map and site search



Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti