Distinguishing Sonnets from Poems

Key Difference – Sonnet vs Poem

In the realm of literature, the distinctions between poems and sonnets are often misunderstood. Many people assume that a poem and a sonnet are two entirely separate works of art that rarely intersect. However, the truth is that a poem is the primary work of art in literature, and sonnets fall under it as one of the most popular and widely used types of poems.

Key Takeaways

  • A poem is a form of writing that conveys one or more feelings under various literary characteristics, while a sonnet is a type of poem with a fixed structure, rhyme scheme, and 14 lines.
  • A sonnet’s rhythm is written in iambic pentameter, whereas a poem can have various metrical patterns.
  • While every sonnet is a poem, not every poem is a sonnet.

Poem – Definition and Description

A poem can be defined as a literary work created by arranging words, paying special attention to its literary features like diction, rhyme, rhythm, and imagery in order to express feeling through imaginative thoughts. In simple terms, a poem is a form of writing conveying one or many feelings under different characteristics of literature. Poems contain various structures and types, including: Elegy, Ballad, Sonnet, Free Verse, Limerick, Haiku, Couplet, and Narrative.

Sonnet- Definition and Description

Similarly, a Sonnet is a type of Poem. Just as a novel and a biography fall under the subgenre of books, it falls under the subgenre of Poems. The word Sonnet originates from the Italian word Sonetto, meaning “little song.” This form of poem was first invented by Dante and an Italian philosopher named Francisco Petrarch in the 13/14th century. A sonnet is a short rhyming poem containing 14 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme and a specific structure. Over the centuries, sonnets have evolved into several types within its own context, including Petrarchan or Italian Sonnets and Shakespearean or English Sonnets.

What is the difference between Sonnet and Poem?

Although the difference between a sonnet and a poem in the literature context is slight, there are several distinctions within their own framework:

Structure: Sonnets have a set structure, whereas poems do not have a set structure.

Use of Lines: A sonnet has 14 identical lines, whereas a poem can contain any number of lines.

Rhythm: A sonnet is written in iambic pentameter, while a poem can have various metrical patterns.

Ultimately, the most prominent comparison is that there are many different forms in poetry, and one of those types of poems is called a sonnet. In other words, “Every sonnet is a poem, but not every poem is a sonnet.”

Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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