The term sonnet derives from the Italian sonetto, a little sound or song.
The first example we have are by Giacomo da Lentini but the sonnet established its importance as a poetic form with Petrarch’s Canzoniere. The poets who came after him took his sonnets as a model. The Petrarch’s sonnet consists of two quatrains and two tercets. In the Renaissance, English poets express their chaste adoration of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I. The English poets of sonnets were Wyatt, Surray, Sidney, Spenser and Shakespeare. The Elizabethan sonnet is given by three quatrains and a couplet. The usual rhyme was ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG but this structure was more flexible.
In the quatrains there is a problem and in the couplet there is the solution of the problem. With William Shakespeare the Elizabethan sonnet had the best results, he wrote 154 and are dedicated to Mr.W.H., who has identified with two friends and patrons of Shakespeare. The themes are death, love, poetic immortality, old age and friendship.