Poetry: Citing Sources

This guide provides general information regarding a selection of KU resources and websites pertaining to poetry and its wide range of forms. Main focus is on poetry in English, though some resources may span multiple languages.

MLA Citation Style

Citation Help

General MLA Guidelines for Citing Poetry

When citing three lines or less show line breaks with a slash mark ( / ).

Example: In "What the Thunder Said,"  Eliot muses "Here is no water but only rock / Rock and no water and the sandy road" (332-3).

When quoting from more than one poem put the title of the poem in a parenthetical citation, such as: ("The Walls Do Not Fall" 70) or (Trilogy 70) when citing a book of poetry, instead of an individual poem. The key is to make it explicitly clear what poem from which the quotation originates. Note these numbers are not page numbers but line numbers so that your reader(s) can find the lines quoted, if desired, with ease.

Block quotations are necessary when including more than three lines of a poem in the body of an essay. These quotes should be spatially set apart with a one inch indentation from the left margin (a paragraph break is only half an inch). These quotes should end with the punctionation preceding the parenthetical documentation -- which is good to note since this differs from simple in-text quotations.


In "What the Thunder Said,"  Eliot muses:       

                 Here is no water but only rock
                 Rock and no water and the sandy road
                 The road winding above among the mountains
                 Which are mountains of rock without water
                 If there were water we should stop and drink
                 Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
                 Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
              If there were only water amongst the rock (332-9)

The spacing should all be the same: 12pt font, Times New Roman, double spaced. See the MLA Handbook for more details and examples.

Literatures & Humanities Librarian

Ask a Librarian

Ask a Librarian

We can help with your research questions -- contact us by chat, phone, email, text or at a Research Help desk.