How To Cite A Poem

Citing and Quoting Poems Fully Explained With Relevant Examples

Citations are an integral part of any academic essay writing paper. It is proof that you have used specific pieces of information from multiple sources, and you have provided due credit to the original authors. The lack of citations makes it seem like you have stolen someone else’s ideas, and that is plagiarism . Like any other source, you are required to cite poems as well. This blog will guide you thoroughly on how to cite a poem with relevant examples to make the formatting even clearer to you. Here You Can also Read About costco essay

How To Quote A Poem?

You need to get two aspects right while quoting poetry- proper formatting and in-text citation. This formatting helps the readers get to the right source entry in the list of Works Cited. Usually, professors ask students to quote poems in MLA format. The quotations differ on the basis of the poem’s length. Remember, the pages in MLA should have double spaces.

Long quotations

  • You need to place the quotations in a block of text that’s standing freely while quoting more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse.
  • Begin the quotation on a new line.
  • The entire quote should be indented by ½ inch from the left margin keeping the double space intact.
  • Include the parenthetical citation after the closing punctuation mark.
  • Maintain original line breaks while quoting verses. Do not forget to maintain double-spacing throughout the paper.

Example of using quotes from a poem:

In the following verses, Nelly Dean dehumanizes Heathcliff in her narration: 

They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room, and I had no more sense, so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. (Bronte 78). Make sure you keep the formatting of the poem as close to the original as possible while citing long sections of the poem.

Short quotations

In case you are wondering how to quote a poem in an essay, here are the tips for you.

  • Short quotations include citing four typed lines or three lines of verse in your text.
  • Use double quotation marks to enclose the quotation.
  • Include a specific page number and the author’s name in the in-text citations. However, provide line numbers in the case of verse.
  • Include a reference page on the Works Cited page.
  • If question marks and exclamation points are a part of the poem, include them within the quotation marks.
  • Place the punctuation marks such as semicolons,commas, colons and periods after the parenthetical citation.

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According to some, dreams express "profound aspects of personality" (Foulkes 184), though others disagree. According to Foulkes's study, dreams may express "profound aspects of personality" (184).

How To Cite A Poem In MLA?

Here is the format for how to cite a poem from a book:

Author of Poem's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Poem." Title of Book: Subtitle if Any, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and is not first, Publisher Name often shortened, Year of Publication, pp. Page Numbers of the Poem.


Donne, John. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." The Broadview Introduction to

 Literature: Poetry, edited by Lisa Chalykoff, Neta Gordon, and Paul

 Lumsden, Broadview Press, 2013, pp. 48-49.

Here is the format for citing poetry from a website:

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Poem." Title of Website, Name of Organization Affiliated with the Website, Date of copyright or date last modified/updated, URL. Accessed Day Month Year site was visited.

What are the in-text citation rules for poetry?

Format for citing a poem including line numbers:

(Author of Poem's Last Name, line(s) Line Number(s))


(Blake, lines 6-9)

Format for citing a poem including divisions:

(Author of Poem's Last Name Division Number. Line Number(s))


(Pope 5.645-646)

Do You Put Poem Titles In Quotes?

You need to state the poet’s last name while quoting the poem. This helps the readers locate the sources in the Works Cited list. Write the title of the poem in quotes if you are citing more than one poem composed by the same author. However, you can also write the title in the main text as you introduce the quote.

How To Use Line Numbers and Page Numbers In In-Text Citations?

Poems are at times published with line numbers in the margin. Thus, you need to include the line numbers in your in-text citations to locate the quote more precisely. In the first citation, use the term ‘lines’ or ‘lines’ after a comma. There’s no need to count the line numbers if it isn’t displayed on the source. You can use the page number if the poem is published on multiple pages.

Example of citation with numbered lines:

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish?” (Eliot, lines 19–20)."

Example of citation with page numbers:

“One day they hold you in the / Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you / Were the last raw egg in the world” (Angelou 132).

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