Monday, October 5, 2020

Enjambment in Poetry

Simply put, enjambment is when the end of a phrase extends past the end of a line. The definition of “enjambment” in French is “to step over.” In poetry, this means that a thought “steps over” the end of a line and into the beginning of the next line, with no punctuation, so that the reader must read through the line break quickly to reach the conclusion of the thought.

Here are examples that show how different poets have used enjambment. Read them aloud to hear the rhythm and where the poets place the emphasis in each line.

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.


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