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The Sonnet

The sonnet is a poetic form that probably derived from the Sicilian Strambotto (from the Italian word strambo, that is, whimsical, eccentric), one of the oldest verse forms, whose rather simple short structure was later extended and made more complex by adding more lines. The new form, consisting of fourteen lines altogether, may have been invented by an unknown poet at the court of Emperor Fredrick II in Sicily at the beginning of the 13th century, but the earliest examples are attributed to Jacopo da Lentini who found inspiration in the poetry of the troubadour, the medieval French composeres of love and chivalric songs. In fact, the term sonnet derives from the Provencal (or Lengal d’oc or Langue d’oc, a Romance language spoken in southern France) sonnet and italian sonetto, both meaning “little song”.

It was eventually brought to Tuscany by Guittone d’Arezzo who further adapted it, but basically kept the original pattern developed by the poets of Sicilian School, which became the standard for italian poets throughout the later Middle Ages.

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