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The Bible for every student of English is Grammar. It is the necessary set of directives and rules that conduct the language of every genre in English and also haunt the students of English throughout their lives. It is unforgiving and can be an extreme pain-in-the-neck for all the literary scholars. Every aspect of grammar be it punctuation, syntax, rhetoric, etc. stand their ground while forming a literary piece. A poem is the most difficult genre of English to apply the rules of grammar. Therefore this blog holds the discussion regarding punctuation in poems and the correct way of applying them.



The image shows two lines and explains the importance of punctuation in a sentence.

The rules of grammar are comparatively lax for the poets. They are free to break the rules of grammar to explore their diverse pool of creativity. Students are however not allowed such liberty. Thus while reading a poem if you find that it is missing a punctuation mark, do not be surprised. Every author or every poem for that matter can have their own set of punctuation rules which requires careful attention and reading. Poets use punctuation not only to communicate clearly but also to sound better and create an impression upon the readers. Poetry, in reality, gives a lot of freedom for expressing emotions. The following points mentioned below stand proof to this fact:

  • It is not necessary to use every comma and dash in the poem since it might break the aesthetic flow of thoughts of the poet.
  • It is not required to start every line with a capital letter. It was an old tradition which may or may not be followed by contemporary poets.
  • Also, a punctuation mark can be used anywhere in the text to convey an emotion to the readers simply.



There are four main types of poems punctuation. They are:-

  • End stop– A punctuation mark at the end of a line.
  • Enjambment- No punctuation marks at the end of a line since the same idea continue in the next line and the reader goes on reading without a pause.
  • Caesura– A punctuation mark which causes a pause in the middle of the line.
  • No punctuation– Modern poets can decide not to use punctuation at all.

These are the four main types of punctuation which poets use in their poetry. An example of the traditional use of punctuations in poems and the modern use of punctuations (sometimes no punctuation) is cited below. Have a look to get a clearer concept:


Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

The poem mentioned above is by Robert Frost. It follows all the rules of a traditional poetry with proper punctuations, capitalization of first letters of each sentence and required pauses.


since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry

—the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

and death i think is no parenthesis

The poem mentioned above is by E.E. Cummings. It is the ideal example of a modern poetry which follows very fewer rules of grammar and expresses the emotions freely. Modern poets do not like coloring within the lines, and that is expressed in the poem cited above. Besides this, follow the blog here to learn about the primary and secondary sources.


If you are faced with the option of directly quoting from a poem in your paper, then you need to preserve the author’s style and use of punctuation in the poem.

  • If you quote a single line, then use the standard format of an in-text citation like:

“I hold with those who favor fire.”

  • If you write several lines from the poem, then write all of them in a single line and use slashes in place of line breaks. Like:

“since feeling is first/who pays any attention/to the syntax of things/will never wholly kiss you;”


Poets always look for several measures to expand their vista of creativity. They use several devices to achieve this end. Toying with grammar rules is one method employed by them. But this approach is not as easy as it sounds. You have to have a proper creative technique to forego the rules of grammar or else your poem may appear amateurish. Both the free-spirited ones and the worshippers of grammar rules have an enormous task at hand, and it is not easy to achieve either of them. Thus it is up to you whether you are interested in toeing the line or toying with the line.

Now you know the importance of punctuations in our lives. To get more such interesting and useful information for your assignment click on to take my online class and get the best help from our professional tutors.

Click here to know the best usage words to start a paragraph.

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Ian Fleming