A One Syllable Per Line Sonnet


The following is an remarkable short “sonnet” titled “An Aeronaut to his Lady” composed by Frank Sidgwick (1879-1939) quoted in David McCord (Editor), What Cheer: An Anthology of American and British Humorous and Witty Verse, 1945:


This sonnet differs from traditional sonnets like those written by Shakespeare since it contains only one syllable per line instead of the familiar ten syllables per line.

Nonetheless, it preserves the other properties of a traditiomal sonnet. The fourteen lines of this mini-sonnet follows the a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a, c-d, c-d, e-e rhyming scheme. In addition, it mostly observes the pattern of a classic Italian sonnet, also known as Petrachan sonnet named after Petrarch.

An Italian sonnet is divided into two parts. The first part consists of eight lines (the octave) and the last part consists of six lines (the sestet) for a total of fourteen lines like a typical sonnet.

Usually, the octave provides the theme while the sestet gives the conclusion or the resolution for the sonnet. In the case of Sidgwick’s sonnet, the octave (“I through blue sky fly to you. Why?”) asks a question and the sestet (“Sweet love, feet move too slow!”) provides the answer.

That’s a lot of mileage for a mere fourteen-word verse.

I am still trying to find other examples of this kind but so far, no luck. According to this article, one Jemal Injia also wrote a one syllable per line sonnet titled “A Stream in the Forest” in 1988. However, I couldn’t locate any sources pertaining to it. Perhaps, my poet readers would be interested to accept the challenge of writing their own one line per syllable sonnets?

Let me know if you found other examples or if you wrote your own.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

27 thoughts on “A One Syllable Per Line Sonnet

  1. Very good 🙂
    Typical english sonnets are written in a meter called iambic pentameter, a prosodic scheme in which every line has ten syllables (decasyllabic verse). Italian sonetti are traditionally written in endecasillabi, i. e. every line has eleven syllables (hendecasyllabic verse).

    Liked by 4 people

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