Line Break

Definition of Line Break

A line break is a poetic device which is used at the end of a line and the beginning of the next line in a poem. It could be employed without traditional punctuation. Also it can be described as a point where in a line is divided into two halves at the end of a line. Sometimes, examples of line break at mid-clause where they create enjambment.

Examples of Line Break from Literature

Example #1

With his own sword,
Which he did wave against my throat, I have ta’en
His head from him
I am absolute
Twas very Cloten

(Cymbeline by William Shakespeare)

There are two line break examples in the given passage. One line break cuts the lines in the middle of the second line. Another line break is used in the fourth line, “I” being a person has an absolute meaning. These line breaks are determining the visual shape of this text.

Example #2

Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees:All times I have enjoy’d

Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments

(Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson)

There are many line breaks within this extract. In line three, a line break cuts the two lines at, “I mete and dole”. Similarly, a break occurs in other lines like “I will drink…”, “all times I have enjoyed” and “I am become a name”.

Example #3

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense
, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drain
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot

Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease

(Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats)

In this excerpt, Keats has employed line breaks to create different types of artistic effects. The line also forces the readers to take a slight break that in turn reinforces the disclosure of the following lines.

Example #4

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

(The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats)

This excerpt is also filled with several line breaks. These include “the center cannot hold”, “and everywhere….” The poet takes the readers into surprising and multiple ideas.

Example #5

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck,boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

(Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley)

This extract is also a good example of line breaks. These line breaks are providing dynamism to the poem, also giving breaks in the flow of reading.

Function of Line Break

Line breaks could be the source of dynamism in poetry since they provide a manner whereby poetic forms inculcate contents with strength and consequential meanings – which might not be possible in other types of text in the same level. Line breaks are used as important poetic devices, because they often bring ambiguity and also affect the meaning. However, they lead the readers into surprising ideas and different understandings, as well as controlling the manner wherein they come upon ideas.

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