EnglishWords

Difference Between Sonnet and Poem

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Main Difference

The main difference between Sonnet and Poem is that the Sonnet is defined as a poem of fourteen lines in any of the formal rhyme schemes, whereas Poem is defined as a piece of literature that is written by expressing the feelings and ideas and that is given the intensity with the use of a unique diction, rhyme, rhythm, and imagery.

Sonnet vs. Poem

Sonnet is defined as a poem of fourteen lines in any of the formal rhyme schemes. The poem is defined as a piece of literature that is written by expressing the feelings and ideas, and that is given the intensity with the use of a unique diction, rhyme, rhythm, and imagery. Sonnets follow a specific structure. The poem does not have any specific set of structures. The most significant feature of a sonnet is that it is consists of fourteen lines. The poem does not have a fixed number of lines.

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The word sonnet originates from the Italian word ‘Sonetto,’ which means ‘little song.’ The word poem is derived from the Greek word ‘poem’ that means ‘to make or compose. Sonnets are commonly written in iambic pentameter. Different types of poems are written in different metrical patterns. Sonnet is categorized as one of the types of the poem, and all the sonnets can be said as poems while all the poems are not sonnets. The poem is a general piece of literature that has various forms.

The types of the sonnet are Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet, Shakespearean sonnet, Spenserian sonnet, Curtal sonnet, Miltonic sonnet, and Terza Rima sonnet. The poem is a literary work with many forms, i.e., ballad, sonnet, haiku, sestina, elegy, villanelle, couplet, narrative, limerick, ode, free verse, etc.

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Comparison Chart

SonnetPoem
A poem of fourteen lines in any of the formal rhyme schemesA piece of literature that is written by expressing the feelings and ideas and that is given the intensity with the use of a special diction, rhyme, rhythm, and imagery
Word Origin
From the Italian word Sonetto, that means ‘little song.’From the Greek word ‘poem’ that means ‘to make or compose.’
Structure
Specific structureDoes not have any specific set of structure
Lines
Fourteen linesNo fixed number of lines
Types
Italian Sonnet, Shakespearean Sonnet, Spenserian Sonnet, Miltonic Sonnet, Terza Rima Sonnet, and Curtal SonnetBallad, sonnet, haiku, sestina, elegy, villanelle, couplet, narrative, limerick, ode, free verse
Rhyming Pattern
Iambic pentameterDifferent metrical patterns.
Interconnection
All the sonnets are poemsAll the poems are not sonnets
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What is Sonnet?

A sonnet is a literary piece of work that comes under the category of the poem. However, it is a specific type of poem which has fourteen lines. It originated in Italy. A sonnet is defined as “a poetic form of fourteen lines with strict metrical rhyme and specific structure. A sonnet was first invented by Dante and Francisco Petrarch (Italian philosopher) in the 14th century.

There are various types of sonnets. These types are Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet and the Shakespearean (English) sonnet. A Petrarchan sonnet is also called Italian Sonnet, which is known to be the original form of a sonnet. In the Petrarchan sonnet, the fourteen lines are separated into two parts. The first part is called an octet, and the second is sestet. The octet intends to introduce the theme of the problem of the topic on which the sonnet is written. The sestet solves the problem or clarifies the theme. There are different rhyme schemes for octet and sestet. Octet is typically having a rhyme scheme of ABBA ABBA. The rhyme schemes for the sestet can be CDC CDC, CDE CDE, CDD CDE are some possible rhyme schemes.

Another type is the English sonnet that consists of three quatrains and a couplet. It is also known as Elizabethan sonnet because it became popular in the Elizabethan era. Shakespeare was the most famous sonneteer of that period, so this type was also called as a Shakespearean sonnet. The rhyme scheme it follows is ABAB BCBC. CDCD EE.

What is the Poem?

The poem is a literary piece of writing that reflects the expression of feelings and ideas of the writer. It is a very intense piece of writing that raises strong emotions into the reader. This intensity in a poem is due to to the diction, rhyme, rhythm, and imagery it follows. The word poem is derived from the Greek word ‘poema’ that means ‘to make or compose.’ It is always written in the metrical pattern or blank verse with decorative and creative diction.

A poem does not contain unnecessary words; instead, it completes its idea or delivers the message within as few words as possible. Various literary devices are used in a given poem. These devices are meter, rhythm, alliteration, symbolism, imagery, repetition, consonance, assonance, and enjambment. Different forms of a poem are based on its structure and variety. These forms are ballad, sonnet, haiku, sestina, elegy, villanelle, couplet, narrative, limerick, ode, free verse, etc.

Types of Poem

  • Elegy: (a poem that is a lament for the dead)
  • Ballad: (a poem about folk tales or legends)
  • Haiku:(a Japanese poem with three short lines that do not rhyme)
  • Sonnet: (a poem with fourteen lines)
  • Limerick:(a humorous poem containing five lines)
  • Free verse: (a poetic form deprived of a consistent meter, pattern or rhyme)
  • Sestina:(a poem with six stanzas, each stanza with six lines, and a concluding seventh stanza with three lines)
  • Villanelle: (a highly structured poem having five tercets followed by a quatrain that contains two repeating rhymes and two refrains)

Key Differences

  1. Sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines in any of the formal rhyme schemes. In contrast, a poem is a piece of literature that is written by expressing the feelings and ideas, and that is given the intensity with the use of a unique diction, rhyme, rhythm, and imagery.
  2. The word sonnet derives from the Italian word Sonetto that means little song; on the other hand, the word poem is derived from the Greek word ‘poema’ that means ‘to make or compose.’
  3. Sonnetshave a specific structure; contrarily, the poem does not have any specific set of structures.
  4. The most significant feature of a sonnet is that it is consists of fourteen lines; on the flip side, the poem does not have any fixed number of lines.
  5. The types of the sonnet are Italian Sonnet, Shakespearean Sonnet, Spenserian Sonnet, Miltonic Sonnet, Terza Rima Sonnet, and Curtal Sonnet; inversely, different types of a poem are ballad, sonnet, haiku, sestina, elegy, villanelle, couplet, narrative, limerick, ode, free verse, ghazal, etc.
  6. A sonnet is categorized as one of the types of the poem, and all the sonnets can be said as poems; on the contrary, all the poems are not sonnets. The poem is a general piece of literature that has various.
  7. Sonnets are commonly written in iambic pentameter; on the converse, different types of poems are written in different metrical patterns.

Conclusion

A sonnet and a poem are the two works of art that are different from one another. The sonnet is one of the popular and widely used types of poems. The poem is the main work of art in literature.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson