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When...Then...So... Sonnet 29

Teachers' Rating:
  1 rating

Alberto Sangorski. Songs and Sonnets by William Shakespeare. Manuscript, 1926

May 2012

Dr. Barbara Cobb is the Associate Professor of English and the Education Coordinator of the Murray Shakespeare Festival at Murray State University, Kentucky


Plays/Scenes Covered
Sonnet 29
What's On for Today and Why

In this lesson, students will explore Shakespeare's Sonnet 29. Students will also create an original poem, loosely based on the sonnet covered, using a "when" / "then" / "so" structure in order to describe a change in emotional state and to explain the importance of that change.


This lesson addresses 4th Grade Reading Literature Standards 1,2,4,5,6, Foundational Skills 3,4, Writing Standards 1,3,  as well as a number of the Language standards.

Common Core Standards


This lesson may be completed in a 90-minute class period, with additional time allotted for revision and peer editing, or it may be divided into several shorter lessons.


What You Need

Shakespeare Sonnet 29

Sonnet 29 Graphic Organizer


Shakespeare Sonnet 29
Sonnet 29 Graphic Organizer
What To Do

1. Introduce the Sonnet: Present students with Sonnet 29. Have them read the first two lines out loud. Ask for volunteers to recite these two lines, adding emotion and inflection.

2. Discuss the metaphors in line 1: what is "fortune"? what does it mean to be "in disgrace with fortune"? What are "men's eyes"? Does "eyes" mean eyes? What does it mean to be "in disgrace" with "men's eyes"?

3.  Discuss sound devices (assonance, consonance) in line 2: what is the effect of these repetitions?

4. Work through lines 3 and 4: how do the "and" clauses add to the meaning presented in lines 1-2? Then move to lines 5-8: how does the content of these lines further modify the meaning presented in lines 1-4? How is the speaker developing his description of his or her feelings? Have students evaluate  the speaker's emotional state.

5. Introduce the term "turn" or "volta," in which the speaker
 presents a problem and then uses a  transition word like "Yet" or "But" to move  from the problem to the solution. What is the transition word in this sonnet?  How does the speaker describe his/her change in emotion? Why does his/her  mood change?

6. Have students look closely at the last two lines of the sonnet: how do these lines sum up the meaning of the poem as a whole?

7. Writing the Poem: Use the graphic organizer to brainstorm and to create a poem! Encourage students to work through several drafts, developing ideas and making the parts fit together in logical sequence: "when" / "then" / "so.


How Did It Go?

Were students able to identify the literary and poetic devices such as metaphor, volta, etc?


Was each student able to produce at least a “when” / “then” sequence? At best a poem that demonstrates a change in emotion, and the cause of that change?


If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
Additional Information

Metaphor and Metrical Effects in the Sonnets

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