How to Quote Poetry: The Basics
English 105 (Conner)
1. When quoting more than a single line of poetry within a sentence:
Show where each line ends and another begins by separating them with a slash (/), with a space on either side of the slash.
Example: Wordsworth expresses his grief over his beloved’s death when he states "that neither present time, nor years unborn / Could to my sight that heavenly face restore"(ll.13-14).
Note that the line reference is given parenthetically after the quotation marks, and that the final punctuation occurs after the line reference.
2. When quoting more than three lines of poetry:
Indent the lines 10 spaces (1 inch) from the left margin and double-space the lines.
Example: Hamlet expresses his doubts over the very worth of his existence in his famous soliloquy in Act III:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. (ll.55-59)
Note that no quotation marks are needed when the quote is indented (the indentation tells the reader that it is a quote), and that the final punctuation comes at the final quoted word, and the line reference follows in parentheses after two spaces.
3. When omitting a line or more of poetry in a blocked quotation, type a line of spaced dots to indicate the omission.
Example: Hamlet finally expresses his disgust at the possibility of human action:
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . lose the name of action. (ll.83-87)
For more detailed discussion of quotation of poetry formats and rules, see chapter 2 ofThe MLA Style Manual.