How to Quote a Poem in an Essay

Quoting a poem in an essay can be a bit tricky if you’re not familiar with the proper format. However, with the right guidance, you can easily include quotes from a poem in your writing. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to quote a poem in an essay.

1. Determine the Format of the Poem

Before you begin quoting a poem in your essay, you need to determine the format of the poem. Is it a sonnet, a haiku, or a free verse? Knowing the format of the poem will help you understand how to quote it properly.


2. Use Quotation Marks

When quoting a few lines or less from a poem, use quotation marks to enclose the lines. For example, if you want to quote the first two lines of William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” you would write:” I wandered lonely as a cloud.

That floats on high o’er vales and hills.”

Note that the first line is indented, and the quotation marks enclose both lines.


3. Indent Longer Quotations

If you’re quoting more than three lines of a poem, you should indent the lines. For example, if you want to quote the first stanza of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” you would write:Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel both.

And be one traveler, long I stood.

And looked down one as far as I could.

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Note that the entire quotation is indented, and there are no quotation marks.


4. Include Line Numbers

When quoting a poem, it’s essential to include line numbers. Line numbers help your reader locate the quoted lines in the original poem. For example, if you’re quoting the first two lines of John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale,” you would write:” My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains.

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,” (lines1-2)

Note that the line numbers are in parentheses after the quotation.


5. Use Ellipses for Omissions

If you’re omitting a portion of a poem in your quotation, use ellipses to indicate the omission. For example, if you want to quote the second stanza of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” but omit the last two lines, you would write:”

A woman drew her long black hair out tight.

And fiddled whisper music on those strings,And bats with baby faces in the violet light.

Whistled, and beat their wings,And crawled head downward down a blackened wall,And upside down in air were towers.

Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours.

And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.” (lines65-73)

Note that the ellipses indicate the omission of two lines in the middle of the quotation.


6. FAQ

1. Can I skip the quotation marks when quoting a poem?

No, you should always use quotation marks when quoting a poem. Quotation marks help your reader distinguish the quoted lines from the rest of your text.

2. How do I cite a poem in my essay?

You should cite a poem in your essay using the author’s last name and the line numbers. For example, (Shakespeare, Hamlet3.1.55-57).

3. Should I include the title of the poem in my essay?

It’s not necessary to include the title of the poem in your essay unless your instructor specifically asks for it.

4. Can I change the words in a poem when quoting it in my essay?

No, you should never change the words in a poem when quoting it. If you need to omit or add words, use ellipses or brackets to indicate the changes.

5. Do I need to include the entire poem in my essay if I’m quoting from it?

No, you don’t need to include the entire poem in your essay if you’re quoting from it. However, if you’re analyzing the poem, you may want to include the entire text for context.


7. Conclusion

Quoting a poem in an essay may seem daunting, but with the right format and citation guidelines, it’s easy to do correctly. Remember to use quotation marks for shorter quotes, indent longer quotes, include line numbers, use ellipses for omissions, and cite the poem properly. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to include quotes from poems in your writing with ease.