How do I show the blank space between stanzas when quoting from a poem?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
Use a single line space to separate stanzas of poetry, as in this excerpt from Felicia Hemans’s “The Image in Lava”:
Thou thing of years departed!
What ages have gone by,
Since here the mournful seal was set
By love and agony!
Temple and tower have mouldered,
Empires from earth have passed
And woman’s heart hath left a trace
Those glories to outlast!
And childhood’s fragile image
Thus fearfully enshrined,
Survives the proud memorials reared
By conquerors of mankind. (lines 1–12)
When quoting poetry in your prose (i.e., when quoting three lines or fewer), use a double slash to indicate a stanza break, as described in section 1.3.3 of the MLA Handbook:
“Since here the mournful seal was set / By love and agony! // Temple and tower have mouldered” (lines 3–5).
Hemans, Felicia. “The Image in Lava.” The Poetical Works of Mrs. Felicia Hemans, Grigg and Elliot, 1843, p. 318.
MLA Handbook. 8th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2016.