Soon after the introduction of the Italian sonnet, English poets began to develop a fully native form. These poets included Sir Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton, Samuel Daniel and William Shakespeare. The form is often named after Shakespeare, not because he was the first to write in this form but because he became its most famous practitioner.
The form consists of three quatrains and a couplet. The couplet generally introduced an unexpected sharp thematic or imagistic "turn". The usual rhyme scheme was a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g.
This example, Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, illustrates the form:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no, it is an ever fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring barque, Whose worth's unknown although his height be taken. Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved. Read more . . .