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Referred to as the English Sonnet and the Elizabethan Sonnet as well, the Shakespearean Sonnet was not invented by William Shakespeare (it was developed by Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey). However, Shakespeare proved to be its greatest master.
The Shakespearean Sonnet cosists of three quatrains and a single couplet, entirely written in iambic pentameter. Shakespeare's sonnets usually present a problem in the first twelve lines, with a different aspect of the problem being addressed in each quatrain. The couplet offered a solution, conclusion, or epiphany (altough the term epiphany had not been used in this sense at the time). Here is a beautiful example of the Shakespearean Sonnet, written by the old bard himself:

Sonnet 73

William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

The rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean Sonnet runs thus: a b a b, c d c d, e f e f, g g. Unlike the Spenserian Sonnet, the three quatrains are completely individual, with separate rhymes.
Although this sonnet arrangement bears the namesake of "ol' Shakey," he preferred the Spenserian Sonnet.

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