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How To Quote a Poem in Essay

September 20, 2018

The quotation is a literary extract from the text statements. Quotations are one of the types of direct speech in the English language. The citation can be used in research writings and papers to reinforce the credibility of one’s own opinion by referring to more authoritative sources, which turns linguistic work into scientific ones, emphasizes its originality. Thanks to the citation, the author has the opportunity to show the fullness and depth of the work done or the studies conducted.

There are many rules that for quoting poems in MLA format in our essays. Improper quoting can even become a plagiarism. Here some tips you should know before writing your essay.


9 Rules How To Quote Poetry in Text

1. If you borrow some idea or a phrase, use a citation. To avoid plagiarism indicate in your work that you has taken the information from another source.

2. The quoted text should always be placed in quotation marks and be identical to the original source. The lexical and grammatical form must fully correspond to the original.

3. Use quotation marks when you take word for word citrate from another text. Pharaphreses do not require a quote mark but need a text citation at the end of the borrowed idea.

4. Write titles of the poems in the quotation marks, do not underline or italicize them:

Charlotte Brontes poem “Life” describes the overwhelming true merriment of life.”

5. It is forbidden to combine excerpts in one quotation, which were taken from two different sources.

6. Write short citation in three lines or less. Do not paraphrase, type the phrases as they appear in a poem. In “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” Frost writes “Thee woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep (1-4).

7. Indent quotations of four or more lines. Do not add quotation marks for a long citation. Use a colon after the sentence that introduces the quotation to avoid the comma splice.


In “A Red, Red Rose” Robert Burns writes:

O my Love is like red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Love is is like a melody

That’s sweetly played in tune (1-4).

8. Indicate short omissions with the ellipsis, use them when you have a long quotation that needs shortening. In his poem “To a Mouse” Robert Burns discusses his feelings after disturbing a fieldmouse in his nest: “Little, sly, covering, timid beast.I would be loath to run and chase you”/With murdering puddle”(1-4).

9. Use a full line of ellipsis when you delete a line in a poem. Make this line as long as the line of poetry to keep a symmetry.


Robert Burns describes his feelings of despair when he writes:

Your small house, too in ruin!


And nothing now to build a new one,

Of course green foliage!

And bleak Decembers wind is coming,

Both bitter and piercing! (20-26).


Citing Poems in an Essay

1. Make an in-text citation. Add the line numbers, in parentheses – after the closing the quotation marks. You do not need to put the author’s name after the parenthesis if you have it at the beginning of the citation.

In “To a Mouse” Robert Burns writes: “You saw the fields laid bare and empty/And weary winter coming fast/And cozy here, beneath and blast”(27-29).

2. If you do not write the name of the author in your quote introduction than you should use it before the line numbers with only a space in between the two:

The feeling of despair appears in the lines: “You saw the fields laid bare and empty/And weary winter coming fast/And cozy here, beneath and blast”(Burns 27-29).

2. Add line numbers after you quote several single phrases or words.

Robert Burns uses a variety of words, as “bleak”(25), “empty”(27), “weary”(28) to describe the feeling of hopelessness in his poem.

3. Check if you use proper line numbers, whatever the form. Use more line numbers if you cite a longer section (15-25).

4. Use an ellipsis if you cite two separate sections, separate the range of the sections with coma (15-20, 20-25).

5. Cite long quotes and short quotes differently. Long quotes are indented one inch or ten spaces from the left margin and do not need to be surrounded by quotation marks. In the long quotations, the punctuation goes at the end of the quoted material, in the short – appears after the in-text citation.

Citing a long quote:

Robert Burns shows his attitude to the situation:

Still, you are blessed, compared with me!

The present only touches you:

But, oh, I backward cast my eye,

On prospects dreary!

And forward, though I can not see

I guess and fear! (43-48)


Citing a short quote:

In his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” Frost writes: “He gives his harness bells to shake,/To ask if there is some mistake”(9-10).


6. Use short poem titles in quotations if you use more than one poem by the same author.

The feeling of despair appears in many poems including the famous lines, “That small heap of leaves and stubble,/Has cost you many a weary nibble!/Now you are turned out for all your trouble”(Burns “To a Mouse”, 28-29).

This idea is given in the lines “Poor, naked wretches, where you are/That bide that pelting of this pitiless storm!/How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides”(Burns “a Winter Night”, 1-3).


7. Cite a poem you have found on the website. Type the first and the last name of the author, the date when the poem was posted (in day-month-year order; if there is no date write n.d.), the publication medium, the date you found the poem on the website. You do not need to write the URL of the website, as they are long and confusing.

Burns, Robert, “To a Mouse”, The Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 7 January 2019.


Use these easy tips and you surely will have an excellent essay!