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Curtal Sonnet Definition

An eleven line sonnet created by Gerard Manley Hopkins with the following rhyme scheme: abcabc dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc.

The Curtal Sonnet features exactly ten and one half lines of sonnet poetry. The Curtal Sonnet is considered to be not as lengthy as a regular sonnet. In other words the first 8 lines are restructured to 6 lines in the Curtal Sonnet. And the last 6 lines are restructured to four and one half lines. The Curtal Sonnet is three quarters of what a Petrarchan Sonnet would be. The Curtal Sonnet is also called the The Contracted Sonnet because of its shortened structure and style. It carries a rhythmic balance of abcabc dbcdc or abcabc dcbdc. The Curtal Sonnet was created by Manley Hopkins and was inspired by him within 3 of his popular poems. Some of his poems include: 'Ash Boughs', 'Pied Beauty and 'Peace.'

Some poet experts do not consider The Curtal Sonnet to be a true form of sonnets due to is shortened length. However, many will give The Curtal Sonnet validity due to its structure and form. 


The curtal sonnet is a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and used in three of his poems. It is an eleven-line (or, more accurately, ten-and-a-half-line) sonnet, but rather than the first eleven lines of a standard sonnet it consists of precisely ¾ of the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet shrunk proportionally. The octave of a sonnet becomes a sestet and the sestet a quatrain plus an additional "tail piece." That is, the first eight lines of a sonnet are translated into the first six lines of a curtal sonnet and the last six lines of a sonnet are translated into the last four and a half lines of a curtal sonnet.

Here’s the rhyme scheme:

Line 1: a
Line 2: b
Line 3: c
Line 4: a
Line 5: b
Line 6: c
Line 7: d
Line 8: b
Line 9: c
Line 10: d
Line 11: c

abcabc dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc

Curtal Sonnet Poem Example

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins


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No standard definition found.