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How to quote multiple lines of verse inline

If I am using a quote that is only one line, I would not need a / between lines. But, when do I use a / - for free verse or blank verse? I'm a bit confused.

Thanks!

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marked as duplicate by Matt Эллен, Robusto, FumbleFingers, jwpat7, Mahnax Mar 5 '12 at 3:52

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literature.stackexchange.com might be more the place you want. –  Matt Эллен Mar 4 '12 at 21:26

2 Answers 2

The divider is precisely to indicate the end of a line when it may not be obvious; so for unrhymed verse it is, if anything, more necessary. As an example, Shakespeare reminds us that "... set my teeth on edge/ Nothing so much as mincing poetry".

This assumes, of course, that you are making only a passing allusion. If the quotation is an important part of your argument, it's almost certainly worth blockquoting:

Mediocritas esse poetis
Non homines, non di, non concessere columnae

('Not men, or gods, or even booksellers/ Put up with mediocre verse'; I'm sorry I couldn't find an apposite English tag that starts in the middle of a line.)

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In the MLA style, when quoting fewer than four lines (at which point, and thereafter, you ought to format it as a block quote instead) you place a "/" at the end of each line of verse. So, every five iambs (or so) for blank verse (which makes up the largest part of Shakespeare's works).

I'm having trouble thinking of anything in one of his plays that I would consider free verse. If you are referring to the small bits of prose he sometimes mixed in, you would not use the "/" at all. Simply format the quote like you would any other bit of prose. In other words, if there are no hard returns at the end of each line, don't include a line break "/" in the quote.

To sum up, for MLA, use the "/":

  • When you are quoting 2 or 3 lines of verse
  • At the end of each line
  • No more than 2 times (since using it a third would mean separating 4 lines, requiring a block)
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