By Kalin Grezlik

There are many unique styles and diversities to poetry. Within the pages of this research will be two distinct and different styles. The first is the Shakespearean form and the second the Japanese Haiku. Although they are both very different from one another they do generate the same finished products, beautiful, and intriguing pieces of work.

These extraordinary sonnets form, in fact, a poem of so many stanzas of fourteen lines each; and, like the passion which inspired them, the sonnets are always the same, with a variety of expression,--continuous, if you regard the lover’s soul---distinct, if you listen to him, as he heaves them sigh after sigh. (Herrnstein 4)

William Shakespeare wrote many plays and sonnets. Both had unique characteristics and style. Along with his plays being well known, his poetic style has become world-renowned also, "The first mention of Shakespeare’s sonnets is in a little book by Francis Meres entitled Palladis Tamis, Wit’s Treasury, published in 1598" (Reed 91). Two main schools of poetry are seen in the sixteenth century and earlier: there were plain style poets, and there were the poets of the style, which has been variously labeled courtly, ornate, sugared, or Petrarchan (Reed 106). Shakespeare took on a similar form of the Petrarchan sonnet but inevitably fell into his own personal style later on, Huble himself made the statement that, "It was his way to take a known form and wrest it to his uses, transforming it, sometimes, into an instrument of an effectiveness its inventor could not have foreseen." The thing with Shakespeare is that he was a man of his time, but he was not like his contemporaries. Obviously, if he had been, who would care about him? (17,10). In Shakespeare’s sonnets you will find both styles, sometimes even in the same poem.

In a way Shakespeare stole his form from Petrarch but in turn made it his own style, which is what happened to the haiku poem. The haiku taken from another time and another kind of people is a very short poem, with a traditional and classic form, and special characteristics of its own, (Henderson 2). Throughout many years the haiku has given rise to a mass amount of poets, such as, Basho, Etsujin, Hokushi, Joso, and Yaha, causing it to take on a different form than the Petrarchan/Shakespearean sonnet. Petrarch was the one who made the sonnet the most popular form of the lyric during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. "…In Shakespeare’s day it was largely through the French sonneteers that Petrarch affected English writers" (Reed 96).

Petrarchan sonnets are commonly called Italian sonnets and are poems of fourteen lines divided into the octave and the sestet. The octave is written abbaabba and the sestet could have 2 or 3 rhymes in no fixed order, but the last two lines should not rhyme together. "The logical and syntactical reinforcement of the division between the two physically dissimilar parts of the sonnet centers the energy of the poem inside it" (Booth 30). The sonnet has a set amount of lines in its format, but the haiku is even more restricting. This was an early verse form called the tanka, a poem of thirty-one syllables arranged 5,7,5,7,7, and one of the Court amusements was what they called, "verse-capping," in which the first three lines of a tanka would be given and the competitors would be required to supply the last two (Henderson 9). It is believed that the tanka is what gave rise to the haiku. Henderson even discusses how the first three lines of the tanka were in haiku form, and how these became the "seeds of haiku," even though there is no record of the first poems published in complete 17 syllables (Henderson 9). Keep in mind though that not all poems written in 5-7-5 forms are haiku; not just any conglomeration of words in 5-7-5 form is a haiku, and to think that every haiku must have that form exactly, is a real danger, as the idea is already too prevalent (Henderson 48).

The haiku form is not the easiest to subject yourself to, but neither was the Petrarchan sonnet, which is what soon led to Shakespeare’s sonnet form. The Petrarchan form may sound easy to master but in actuality it became hard to attempt and so Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, "devised a new and simpler form…3 quatrains with a concluding couplet." This new sonnet form was much easier to produce and was much more preferred over the Petrarchan. "In Shakespeare it reached its greatest beauty so that Surrey’s form is now often called the "Shakespearean’ sonnet," (Reed 97). Under Shakespeare’s usage there was a "pause after each quatrain, the greatest coming after the third…There are seven rimes: abab cdcd efef gg" (Huble 18-19).

These rhyme schemes may seem like a piece of cake now, and compared to the restrictions of the haiku they may be, but don’t be so quick to judge just yet. Haikus are short poems usually consisting of three lines with seventeen syllables, usually no more and certainly no less, that read 5-7-5. It is not the case that all haiku follow this strict 5-7-5 form, but the variation is usually no more than one syllable. An example of this variation is the famous early haiku by Teishitsu, which is in 6-7-5 form" (Henderson 5).

Oh…! That’s all
Upon the blossomed-covered
hills of Yoshino.

But haikus that stray from the 5-7-5 forms are extremely few and far between. There is a certain style and technique that they use, and if at all possible they do not vary from this.

Along with Shakespeare’s stylistics of his sonnets was his individuality that he put forth into each one of them, "A reading of the sonnets makes it quite clear that Shakespeare believed, or wanted the reader to believe, that they were a true expression of his individuality" (Huble 13). With his individuality put into his sonnets he also used a lot of word play, "sometimes with wretched effect." There was a tendency in Shakespeare’s time to admire ingenious word play. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the sonnet tradition, Petrarch himself was a master at (Huble 13). Shakespeare’s word play can best be illustrated in sonnet 104:

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold

"It should be remembered that such passages are most frequent and most flagrant in the poetry written when Shakespeare was learning his craft and taking pride in what he learned…To Shakespeare, intensely aware of the many sidedness of meaning, the play on words was a ready instrument" (Huble 14-15). Shakespeare had his own word play worked into many poems, but even his word play is not as constraining as the haiku. Nature is only one of many things that go into writing a haiku poem. Haiku writers make great use of what they call renso or association of ideas, which they use in several different ways (Henderson 5). Another thing that is important and often found in haiku is emotions, "Haiku are more concerned with human emotions than with human acts, and natural phenomena are used to reflect human emotions" (Henderson 5). An example of this is a haiku by Moritake:

A morning glory!
And so—today! —may seem
My own life-story.

"Haiku may be of many kinds, grave or gay, deep or shallow, religious, satirical, sad, humorous, or charming; but all haiku worthy of the name are records of high moments…. And in the hands of a master a haiku can be the concentrated essence of pure poetry" (2).

Sonnets are typically written about love, but this is not always the case. Although most of Shakespeare’s Sonnets dealt with love, a good many did not. When writing a sonnet the topic of your writing is pretty much free reign. Whereas in a haiku you are aloud to write about one topic and only that one topic, which is nature, "The reference to nature is not always direct. Classical haiku almost all contain so-called "season-words" which may be connected with a particular season only by convention. Their use is considered a reference to nature even if it is not a reference to particular natural objects, such as snow or cherry-blossoms" (Henderson 16). The reference to nature is something that has been a part of haiku since the very beginning.

There are many different styles and techniques to writing poetry, and the ones mentioned here, Shakespearean and haiku, are only two of hundreds of methods you are able to use. Although, you can take what you have learned here and apply it to your own works to make them a great success do not limit what your creativity can do. With the help of ancient styles and techniques you are bound to write what everyone will love to read. Just realize your constraints if any at all, before you take action in your writing, so you don’t set yourself up for something you didn’t expect.

Petrarchan Form



A) Blood seeps from every vein,
B) Burning like the fires of hell,
B) Knowing that there’s no one to tell,
A) Causing you searing pain,
A) Bursting through your very brain,
B) Coming out in a yell,
B) Ringing all ears loud as a bell,
A) Crying like Able when murdered by Cain,

Sestet (no set rhyme scheme)

C) A source for such madness,
D) Hatred being all too strong,
E) Building up within us all.
C) It causes everlasting sadness,

Couplets do not rhyme

When no one will admit when wrong,
So someone else takes the fall.

~~Kalin Grezlik


Shakespearean Form

1st Quatrain

A) Hate throbs deep within your being,
B) Tugging at your very heart,
A) Not something you are seeing,
B) Almost like you’ll fall apart,

2nd Quatrain

C) Piercing every tender spot,
D) Burning every fiber through you,
C) Hurting like you’ve just been shot,
D) Unknowing of just what to do,

3rd Quatrain

E) Mirror shows a sadly face,
F) To whom do we owe this aching ember?
E) Filling up your body vase.
F) Branding every single member.

Rhyming Couplet

G) Knowing that there’s no way back,
G) Fumbling over the newly made track.


~~Kalin Grezlik


Sonnet 18

1st Quatrain

A) Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
B) Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
A) Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
B) And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

2nd Quatrain

C) Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
D) And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
C) And every fair from fair sometime declines,
D) By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed;

3rd Quatrain

E) But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
F) Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
E) Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
F) When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,

Rhyming Couplet

G) So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
G) So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.




Japanese Haiku (Henderson 60)


The Butterfly

A sleeping butterfly!
During the nights,
what can it be he does?


The Mournful Chirping

Eaten by the cat!
Perhaps the cricket’s widow
may be bewailing that!


Summer Lightning

that yesterday was in the east,
is in the west today.



Kalin’s Haiku’s

New Life

Spring brings warmth--an end,
to winter’s game—dead and gone
it has rolled on.


Heaven’s Gates

The gate will open
wide and embrace you with the wind
do not fear death child.



Soft and smooth is
the cotton of the high sky
only God can touch.