... So by these various roads we have arrived at a miraculous little form in which our human need for unity and discontinuity, repetition and variation, tension and resolution, symmetry and asymmetry, lyric inspiration and argumentative rigour, are all held in near-perfect oppositional balance. The sonnet might be one of the great achievements of human ingenuity; I hope it’s clear by now that it isn’t an arbitrary construct that poets pit themselves against out of a perverse sense of craftsmanlike duty – it’s a box for their dreams, and represents one of the most characteristic shapes human thought can take. Poets write sonnets because it makes poems easier to write. Readers read them because it makes their lives easier to bear.
from 101 Sonnets (Faber, 1999)