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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day Six of Poetry Week: Enjambment and End Stops

You’ve probably used enjambment and end stops in all of your own poetry; perhaps without even knowing it. Both enjambment and end stops are fundamental elements of poetry. Each line in a piece of poetry can usually be classified as either.

1.      Enjambment: the continuation of a sentence form one line or couplet into the next.
2.      End stop: a grammatical pause at the end of a line of verse (such as a period, colon, semi-colon, comma, etc.)

NOTE: If you punctuate your poetry it is easier to identify each line as either enjambment or end stop.


Enjambment: All lines are examples of enjambment unless otherwise stated.

By: Aubrie Anne (2008)

My daughter’s reflection in the mirror
Contradicts everything about me. (End stop)
Her young and sturdy shoulders
Are not yet burdened by the weight of the world; (End stop)
Whereas I cripple at the sight of the cooled morning air. (End stop)
Her gleaming hair reflects rays of sunshine
While mine, limped curls that absorb the dry air and crinkle at its roots. (End stop)
My lines are deep and hallow
As hers become smoothed and defined. (End stop)
She’s in a prime I surpassed years ago
While I’m a barren wasteland that has been emptied
Month by month, no longer able to create. (End stop)
And her, supple and full, able to give way to pleasure
Without a sense of uselessness. (End stop)
She’s a sweet rose that only need be picked. (End stop)
And I, whose petals have already been plucked one by one
And left to rot on the floor. (End stop)
Why is it, she is of my own making
And yet she’s taken a place I once held so dear; (End stop)
One of youth and adventure. (End stop)
I’ve been replaced. (End stop)

End stop: All lines are examples of end stop.

The Raisin and the Rose
By: Aubrie Anne (2008)

She brushes my locks out every night.
Long tresses are pulled and shined.
Her own withered curls fall out of place,
A mane overtaken by the color of salt.
My posture young, weightless and steady,
Her own hunched, crippled by stress.
Why is it we are moving away from each other?
Both growing, but one taller and the other older.
I seek the life outside, unfamiliar experiences at my fingertips.
She finds solace inside, safety in common comforts.
As I am ready to emerge, choosing a life, a profession, a lover,
She decides scrambled or boiled, wash or dry, Wal-Mart or K-Mart.
She’s shrivels, like a raisin forgotten on the vine.
And I, a rose, spotted from a distance, ready to be picked.
She’s a Queen, not quite jealous of her daughter’s youth and beauty,
But never forgetting, never overlooking,
That someday this girl will take the throne.
She will be replaced.


Did you know about enjambment or end stops before now?
If so, where did you learn about them?
What do you use more: enjambment or end stops?


  1. What an interesting word, "enjambment."

  2. Matt...Yeah, I like it. It's French for "straddling" or "bestriding." I think it's used for this kind of element in poetry because and enjambed verse straddles or bestrides two lines instead of one.

  3. I am not a poet, but I do teach it. Shakespeare used both Enjambment and End Stops in his poetry and his plays. What I also find interesting is Shakespeare's use of rhyming couplets. In 1600, they did not have elaborate stages and mechanized curtains. By inserting rhyming couplets at the end of each scene of his highly poetic plays, the audience knew when the scene came to an end.

  4. Hi! Thanks for stopping by The Enchanted Book and following. I'm here to do the same.

    I like your site. It's not the usual book blog fare, which is refreshing.

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  5. JJ...No way! I never knew that, but it's AWESOME! I took a Shakespeare class about a year ago and our professor never mentioned anything interesting like that. I'm taking another Shakespeare class in the spring so now I'll have an interesting fact to bring up. Thanks! And I know who to go to if I have any questions!

    Matt...I know very very little about the French, except for some of their medieval history and interrelationships with England.

    Selena...No problem. I'm enjoying The Enchanted Book very much so far. And thank you, I try and cover as much as I can and mix it up a bit. Randomness is fun. See ya around!

  6. Stopping by from undeservingrace.com I'd love to have you over for a visit...have a great week! {Tara}

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  8. Undeserving Grace...Thanks for stopping by. I'll be sure to come check out your blog as well.

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  9. Matt...oh, gotcha. Still don't know much about it. Although, I think it would be awesome to know another language.

  10. I took some courses in high school and I'm taking another next semester.

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