9 Quotations and direct speech

9.4 Poetry

9.4.1 Run-on verse quotations

More than one line of quoted verse is normally displayed line by line, but verse quotations may also be run on in the text. In run-on quotations it is Oxford style to indicate the division between each line by a vertical bar (|) with a space either side, although a solidus (/) is also widely used:

‘Gone, the merry morris din, | Gone the song of Gamelyn’, wrote Keats in ‘Robin Hood’

When set, the vertical or solidus must not start a new line. See also 4.13.

9.4.2 Displayed verse

In general, poetry (including blank verse) should be centred on the longest line on each page; if this is disproportionately long the text should be centred optically. Within the verse the lines will generally range on the left, but where a poem’s indentation clearly varies the copy should be followed: this is particularly true for some modern poetry, where correct spacing in reproduction forms part of the copyright. In such instances it is useful to provide the typesetter with a PDF or photocopy of the original to work from. It is helpful to indent turnovers 1 em beyond the poem’s maximum indentation:

Pond-chestnuts poke through floating chickweed on the green
brocade pool:
A thousand summer orioles sing as they play among the roses.
I watch the fine rain, alone all day,
While side by side the ducks and drakes bathe in their crimson

Do not automatically impose capitals at the beginnings of lines. Modern verse, for example, sometimes has none, and the conventions commonly applied to Greek and Latin verse allow an initial capital to only a few lines (see 12.8.5, 12.12.3).

9.4.3 Omissions

Omissions in verse quotations run into text are indicated like those in prose. Within displayed poetry the omission of one or more whole lines may be marked by a line of points, separated by 2-em spaces; the first and last points should fall approximately 2 ems inside the measure of the longest line:

Laboreres Þat haue no lande, to lyue on but her handes,
Deyned nouȝt to dyne a-day, nyȝt-olde wortes.
  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Ac whiles hunger was her maister, Þere wolde none of hem chyde,
Ne stryve aȝeines his statut, so sterneliche he loked.

Use an ellipsis when the end of a line of displayed verse is omitted; indicate the omission of the start of the first line of displayed verse by ranging (usually right with the next line):

a great beau,
that here makes a show,
and thinks all about him are fools

9.4.4 Sources

If there is sufficient room a short source—such as a book, canto, or line number, or a short title—can be placed in parentheses on the same line as the last line of verse. Oxford practice is to begin the reference 1 em to the right of the end of the quotation’s longest line:

The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way(xii. 648–9)

If the source is longer place it on the next line down, ranged to the right with the end of the quotation’s longest line:

They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way
Paradise Lost, xii. 648–9

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms