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Volta

Italian word for “turn.” In a sonnet, the volta is the turn of thought or argument: in Petrarchan or Italian sonnets it occurs between the octave and the sestet, and in Shakespearean or English before the final couplet. See Thomas Wyatt’s “Whoso List to Hunt, I Know Where Is an Hind” and William Shakespeare's Sonnet CXXIX, “Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame” for examples of voltas of each type.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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