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To the first tercet I have got at last, And travel through it with such right goodwill, That with this line I've finished it, I ween :
I'm in the second now, and see how fast
The thirteenth line comes tripping from my quill: Hurrah ! 'tis done ! Count if there be fourteen.
It was during the early part of the sixteenth century that the Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyatt, who had imbibed a taste for the glowing poetry of Italy during residence there, first at­tempted the sonnet structure in English verse. They found the difficulty of transplanting this choice exotic from the musical Italian tongue into the comparatively rough and rhymeless English so great, that many liberties had to be taken with it before it could be well adapted to the sterner English soil. Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, Drayton, and others experimented with the new toy, and introduced a variety of changes in the arrangement of the rhymes, carrying the same jingle from the octave into the sestet, thus abolish­ing the central pause, and they closed the poem with a couplet. Out of these attempts to acclima­tise the stranger to the altered conditions of our speech—attempts which demonstrated the necessity of freedom from the flowery chains of Italian tyranny—grew the English sonnet, for which some writers have claimed an indigenous production.
In the following example from Spenser, note that three rhymes are admitted into the quatrain, the last of which is carried into the first tercet, and that the poem ends with a couplet: