There are fourteen lines in a Shakespearean sonnet. The first twelve lines are divided into three quatrains with four lines each. In the three quatrains the poet establishes a theme or problem and then resolves it in the final two lines, called the couplet. The rhyme scheme of the quatrains is abab cdcd efef. The couplet has the rhyme scheme gg.

See http://shakespeare.about.com/od/studentresources/a/sonnetbasics.htm
 

In addition, Shakespearean sonnets follow Iambic Pentameter.  In Iambic Pentameter, each line has 10 syllables, with the accent on the second syllable.  It begins with an unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable, followed by another pair of unstressed and stressed syllables, and repeats the pattern until there are five pairs of syllables.

 

For example, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116:

 

Let/ me/ not/ to/ the/ mar/riage/ of/ true/ minds (a)
Ad/mit/ im/ped/i/ments,/ love/ is/ not/ love (b)
Which/ al/ters/ when/ it/ al/ter/a/tion/ finds, (a)
Or/ bends/ with/ the/ re/mov/er to/ re/move. (b)

 

 

Something I found interesting is Keats Sonnet, another variation to the English sonnet form.  The meter is not specified and the rhyme scheme is abc abd cab cde de

 

I have revised the poem I provided earlier so that it fits the Shakespearean Sonnet structure.  

 

1. How/ sad!/ With/ love/ our/ weak/ness/ is/ ex/posed (a)
2. Im/pu/ri/ty/ that/ oth/ers/ have/ im/plied (b)
3. To/ our/ lust/ is/ what/ peo/ple/ have/ op/posed (a)

4. In/ our/ mind/, love/ can/ nev/er/ be/ de/nied (b)

5. Look/ing/ in/ thy/ eyes,/ all/ that/ I/ can/ see (c)
6. Is/ that/ thy/ love/ in/ me/ burns/ with/ de/sires (d)
7. How/ great/ly / I/ yearn/ for/ the/ touch/ from/ thee/ (c)
8. But/ I/ know/ to/ re/sist/ from/ catch/ing/ fires (d)

9. There/ will/ nev/er/ be/ mo/ments/ of/ shiv/ers (e)
10. I/ know/ e/ter/ni/ty/ is/ in/ our/ love (f)
11. Like/ bees/ on/ hon/ey/ such/ joy/ de/liv/ers (e)

12. To/ me/ sings/ si/rens/ I/ nev/er dream/ of/ (f)

13.  Our/ love/ for/ each/ oth/er,/ we/ bear/ no/ wrong (g)
14. Our/ shame/ful love/, to/ our/selves/ we/ be/long (g)

 

** thy = your
thee = you

 

(a) rhymes with /oʊzd/
(b) /
aɪd/ (c) /i/ (d) /ərs/ (e) /vər/
(f) /
ʌv/ (g) /ɔŋ/

 

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