Basically, a true sonnet has both meter (as this one does) and rhyme (as this one does not). The rhyme scheme for the Italian (or Petrarchan, named after Petrarch) sonnet was usually abba abba cde cde or abba abba cdc cdc. There have been other occasional forms, but this is basic. The English sonnet usually rhymes abab cdcd efef gg. In the sonnet form (most usually in the Italian, but sometimes in the English too) the sonnet sets forth a difficulty or situation, and at the ninth line, a volta (the Italian word for “turn”) occurs, wherein the difficulty starts to be resolved or altered. Many poets have written any number of sonnets, one of the most prolific being, of couse, Shakespeare. My job today was both to write an apparent love sonnet (and love was often though not exclusively the subject of the sonnet) and a disquisition on the contradiction “unrhymed sonnet” itself. You may be able to see how I’ve aligned death as a topic (often appearing in love sonnets; you know, the old connection in poetry between love and death) with the subject of the death of the true sonnet form. I’ve stuck to the idea of the volta at the ninth line, though. I hope you enjoy the poem, and go on to read a few genuine sonnets and value them. The discipline of creating the form has combined with a true creativity in many standard sonnets.
Unrhymed Sonnet You try to arm for such a subtle fight Thus who would guess that you have too your fears, To be caught out in contradiction's charge Or show you to yourself in league with death. For death is just negation of the sound That should occur at love's own intervals The winsome knot of words, the measured stance That should allow you to swear faith in love. And all your predications, all unhors'd Do glee them footing fancy in the park In places where you hoped them to be strong, And grim, and full of hunger for love's war. What happenstance has fostered the disease That e'en the final couplet cannot cure? ©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/12/17
The “you” spoken to in the first stanza, I would mention at the last, is not the poet’s love in any but a surface reading: the “you” is addressed to the poet as well, who is faced with this conundrum. I hope you enjoyed it.