Sunday, July 11, 2010

Poetry Prompt #13 - Caesura (cæsura or cesura)

In poetry, caesura refers to a pause that occurs naturally in the rhythms of speech when a line is spoken. The pause or break usually occurs near the middle of a line (sometimes used along with enjambment.). Used to create a specific effect, caesura may be soft (barely noticeable) or hard (as in a full stop, such as a period or other terminal punctuation). A caesura is called "masculine" when it falls after a long syllable, and "feminine" when it falls after a short syllable.

There is a caesura right after the question mark in the first line of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's  sonnet that begins, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." There is also caesura in Emily Dickinson’s line, “I'm nobody! Who are you?” Caesura may be indicated by //. Consider Robert Frost’s line: “Two roads diverged // in a yellow wood” (“The Road Not Taken”).

You’ve probably used caesura, perhaps without knowing the term, but this prompt isn’t about using caesura in a poem. Rather, let’s expand the idea of “caesura” to something in your life where there was a caesura-like break, pause, or full stop. Friendship? Romance? Liaison? Family relationship? Emotional bond? Place you've lived? Job? You may want to call your poem "Caesura" or incorporate the word in the title and/or text.

Now, write your poem!

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