You are viewing all posts tagged

How should I style my parenthetical citation the first time I quote lines from a poem if I have not mentioned the author’s name in my prose?

The MLA Handbook explains that if you are citing line numbers instead of page numbers in your parenthetical citation, you should “in your first citation, use the word line or lines” before the line numbers, “and then, having established that the numbers designate lines, give the numbers alone” (121):

According to the narrator of Felicia Hemans’s poem, the emerging prisoners “had learn’d, in cells of secret gloom, / How sunshine is forgotten!” (lines 131-32).

If you do not mention the author’s name in your prose, include it in the parenthetical citation and separate the name from the word line or lines with a comma:

According to the narrator of the poem, . . .

Published 12 June 2019

How do I cite a phrase from a poem quoted in the published version of a speech?

To cite a poem quoted in the published version of a speech, create a works-cited-list entry for the speech since it is your source. You can provide relevant details about the poem being quoted in your prose or in a note.
For example, in a speech about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy quoted Aeschylus. If you were quoting Kennedy’s speech, you might write the following and cite the speech:

Kennedy urged listeners to reject physical destruction and to seek mutual understanding, quoting Aeschylus, who wrote, “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, . . .

Published 18 March 2019

How do I show the blank space between stanzas when quoting from a poem?

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, . . .

Published 31 January 2019

How do I cite the Homeric hymns?

The Homeric hymns refer to poems that were once attributed, mistakenly, to the ancient Greek poet Homer. They are Homeric only in the sense that they were written in the same meter as Homer’s poems. When citing the Homeric hymns, treat them as a coherent collection of anonymous works. According to the MLA Handbook, titles of works that are contained in a larger work are enclosed in quotation marks (68).
In an essay, you might write the following:

One of the Homeric hymns to Demeter gives the goddess the epithet “lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits” . . .

Published 30 January 2019

If I cite a poem posted to a blog by someone who is not the poem’s author, do I need to write “posted by” and the blogger’s name in the “Other contributors” slot?

It depends on whether the person posting the poem is responsible for the blog as a whole. 
If the blogger is responsible for the entire blog, list the author of the poem and the poem’s title. Then list the name of the blog as the title of the container. In the “Other contributors” slot, list the blog’s author preceded by a label, such as “created by” or “curated by,” that indicates the blogger is responsible for creating or curating the entire blog, not only for posting the poem. Then include the date of publication and the URL. The example below shows a works-cited-list entry for William Blake’s “Ah! . . .

Published 20 November 2018

How do I cite more than one sonnet from a sequence of sonnets?

As always, when you are citing a work contained in a larger work, you must identify the particular work you are citing. Thus, if you are citing more than one sonnet from a sequence of sonnets, include the word sonnet and the sonnet’s number in your prose or parenthetically and create one works-cited-list entry for the entire collection of sonnets. 

In sonnet 137 William Shakespeare asks Love, “[W]hat dost thou to mine eyes, / That they behold and see not what they see?” (lines 1–2), and he speaks of a “perjur’d eye” in sonnet 152 (line 13).

Published 30 August 2018

Can I create a works-cited-list entry for an essay, poem, or story in a collection by one author?

If you are citing more than one essay, poem, or story by the same author and using a single collection of that author’s works—edited or not—then it is generally most efficient to cite the collection as a whole in your works-cited list:

Walter Benjamin notes that in Naples “each private attitude or act is permeated by streams of communal life” whereas in Moscow “Bolshevism has abolished private life. The bureaucracy, political activity, the press are so powerful that no time remains for interests that do not converge with them” (171, 108). 
Work Cited
Benjamin, Walter. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writing, . . .

Published 14 June 2018

How do I cite two versions of a poem from the same anthology?

As explained in a previous post, to distinguish between works with the same author and title, you need to include additional information in your parenthetical citation—usually the first unique piece of information in your works-cited-list entry. This principle applies if you are citing two versions of a poem from the same anthology.
For example, the anthology Poetry: An Introduction includes two versions of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—,” a version published in 1859 and an unpublished version from 1861 that Dickinson sent to Thomas W. Higginson. Your works-cited-list entries would look as follows:

Dickinson, Emily. “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—.” . . .

Published 7 June 2018

How do I cite a poem by line numbers if the numbering of the lines begins again at each section?

Provide the section number as well as the line number: 

As Wordsworth writes in his series of sonnets The River Duddon, “Child of the clouds! remote from every taint / Of sordid industry thy lot is cast” (sec. 2, lines 1-2).
Work Cited
Wordsworth, William. Excerpt from The River DuddonMajor British Poets of the Romantic Period, edited by William Heath, Macmillan, 1973, pp. 391-92.

Published 17 April 2018

Get MLA Style News from The Source

Be the first to read new posts and updates about MLA style.

The Source Sign-up - Style Center Footer