What are the rules for commas in poetry? Would appreciate any feedback.
I'm not really sure myself, but I think the rules depend on the poet and what they feel comfortable with in laying out their creation. If commas do not fit in the way you want your poem to be presented then I don't think the comma rule applies really. That's what I've read anyway.
The comma is in the family of stops, punctuation marks which include the semicolon,colon and full stop. For me in modern poetry there are no rules as such but there is sensible use of and a purpose for commas.
Commas are used to imply a completion of sense, when the sense changes a comma might be used. It can also suggest a pause or an emphasis on a word or clause.
It can also affect the pace of the rhythm and the clarity of a line or clause. These two examples show how each poet has used commas to slow down the pace, take a breath and move on into new meaning.
Where I have dipped to drink again, to be
Faithful to the admonishment on her cup,
Remember the Giver, fading off the lip.
Seamus Heaney from A Drink of Water
defines the surface,
so we are drawn to it,
and yellows glittering
like a stand
of beech trees late
in Germany, in fall.
Jorie Graham from Two Paintings By Gustav Klimt.
** The form of Jorie Graham's poem has been changed.
The nice thing about poetry is, it is whatever you want it to be. Use commas to separate your thoughts, to make what you are saying easily understood.
IMO, particularly with non-rhyming (a.k.a. "free verse" or "blank verse"), poetry, such rules are non-existent. It is up to the poet and what type of feeling they wish to convey.
Do they want the reader to pause and think about each line, or every few lines?
Do they want to pour out a gush of emotions, leaving no time to think about it all until the end?
Do they want to mimic stanzas of formal poetry?
That's the beauty of poetry; you can have it your way. ;-)
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