Some poems break a sentence or a clause into two lines at the middle of one meaning group of words, like -

... a blue
sky and ...

What effect such an irregular line break has?

Mr. Garrison Keillor usually ignores such line breaks when reading poems in the Writer's Almanac radio program.

  • 1
    At least sometimes, the breaks are intentional -- for rhyme. – Kris Nov 15 '14 at 6:31
  • 3
    There can be many reasons for this, depending on the intent of the poet: rhyme, meter, physical appearance on the page are the most obvious ones that come to mind. – Barmar Nov 17 '14 at 19:07

I think the term you're looking for here is

enjambment (n)
The continuation of a syntactic unit from one line or couplet of a poem to the next with no pause.

[TFD, American Heritage Dictionary]

  • Poems that employ enjambment need not break arbitrarily in the way the OP's example shows, or in the manner he speaks about ("irregular") by which I assume he means lines of differing length. They can consist of (metrically) full lines; with enjambment the lines simply do not end on a major syntactic break; instead the line ends "in the middle of the clause" or phrase, so to speak, and the remainder of the clause or phrase continues on the next line(s). – TRomano Dec 2 '14 at 20:44

To take a
normal prose sentence and
make it look like
all one needs do is
break the lines in
unusual places.
We are too easily


Line-breaks in modern and contemporary poetry can be very arbitrary. Sometimes the poet wants to draw attention to the words in isolation; sometimes it's for rhythm; sometimes for rhyme; sometimes to disrupt the eye's progress; sometimes because the poets were paid by the line. The reasons for the practice and the effects of the practice vary greatly.

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