A metrical line that terminates at a grammatical boundary or break, such as a dash or closing parenthesis, or with punctuation, such as a colon, semicolon, or period. If a line contains a complete sentence, it is also termed end-stopped. End stopping was once the rule rather than the exception in English poetry; now it is considered basic to understanding poetic meter.
End stops can be divided into two categories: strong and weak. A strong pause ends the line while a weak one does not. A common example of a strong pause is a full stop/period, while a question mark or exclamation point are examples of weak pauses. Generally, if there's a choice, use a full stop or other strong pause; otherwise, your reader may think you forgot to write a word when reading your poem out loud.
Often times poets will mix up their end stops, writing lines that contain both strong and weak pauses. This is acceptable if done deliberately, but unintentional mixing of end stops is called "end-splitting" and is unacceptable. An end-split line is one that cannot be terminated with a punctuation mark, resulting in a run on sentence that doesn't make sense.
A Poetic Terminology Glossary A metrical line that terminates at a grammatical boundary or break, such as a dash or closing parenthesis, or with punctuation, such as a colon, semicolon, or period. A two-line stanza has a beginning and ending line (also called antistrophes). A three-line tercet has a beginning, middle, and ending line (antitheses). A four-line quatrain has an opening line, a closing line, and two internal mid-line lines (antithetical).
In poetry, the last line of a poem usually ends with a punctuation mark or a full stop. The last line of a poem should give an idea about the theme of the poem. For example, "To be or not to be - that is the question" (Hamlet). The closing line can also indicate how the poem will end; for example, "And now abideth faith, hope, and charity" (First Gospel according to Saint John). However, sometimes the last line does not have a punctuation mark or a full stop. For example, "I am the moon, the starry sky is my garment." (Traditional Chinese verse)
The last line of a poem should reveal something new about the topic covered by the poem. For example, "The owl went to bed with the sun today.
An "end-stop" in poetry refers to a halt at the end of a poetic line. A period (full stop), comma, semicolon, or other punctuation signifying the conclusion of a whole phrase or cause, or even the logical end of a complete idea, can be used to indicate an end-stop. The term is most often applied to periods and commas; but it also includes semi-colons.
End-stopping is one method by which poets signal the end of a verse section or unit of verses. Usually this involves using punctuation at the end of a line, but other devices are employed as well. For example, Robert Frost uses hyphenation and capitalization to indicate the end of each of his lines. John Donne does the same thing with enjambment (what Keats called "a breath between two breaths"). Many modern poets also end their poems with prepositions or conjunctions, which serve the same purpose.
End-stopping is useful because it allows readers to distinguish units of text that may appear similar in content. For example, if you were reading through a collection of poems and came across two lines that ended with periods, you would know that they were separate verses even though they might deal with similar topics from a different perspectives.
In a poetry, a line break is a literary technique used at the conclusion of a line and the beginning of the next line. It is acceptable to use without the usage of customary punctuation. An enjambment can occur when a line break occurs in the middle of a clause. This type of break is known as a mid-line break.
Mid-line breaks can be used in free verse to indicate a new thought or idea. They are also used by some poets to avoid rhyming or alliterating words on a single line. The term "mid-line break" comes from the fact that such breaks occur in the middle of a line.
Examples: "The sky is blue and so are my eyes. The sun is out today, so I decided to go for a walk. When I walked into the kitchen, I saw a bottle of wine and some grapes on the counter. To me this means that my wife loves me." "I drink coffee for breakfast every morning. Today was no different except that instead of drinking my usual three cups, I had four." "When I was a kid, my favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz. I still like it but now I know why:" "It's a good story with great characters."
Mid-line breaks can be used in poems, essays, and other writing forms.
Full stops are the most important tools that each creative writer has to work with, whether they are overused, underutilized, or correctly handled. The full stop serves as a stop sign for thinking. Its absence unites ideas, but its presence separates them into distinct phrases. Without a full stop, a poem would be a stream of consciousness - without any clear direction or theme.
Full stops can be used in many different ways within a poem. They can separate lines of verse (or other formal units), they can indicate the end of a section or chapter, and they can signal the end of a story.
In general, uses for full stops include:
- Breaking up long sentences to avoid having the reader lose track of the flow of thought.
- Separating short sentences to reduce confusion.
- Ending statements to provide clarity and avoid ambiguity.
- Signaling the end of an anecdote or story.
- Signaling the end of a chapter or section.
- Signaling the end of a manuscript or book.
Because of their importance, certain terms are used to describe the various uses for full stops.