How to cite poems in an essay

Citing poetry in an essay can be tricky, as you have to pay attention to the line numbers instead of the page numbers. Poems are often short in length, and so even the slightest omission can lead to a misunderstanding of the poems message. Therefore, it is important to cite poetry correctly.

To cite a poem in an essay, start by introducing the quote with a sentence that includes the authors name and title of the poem. For example, In his poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost gives us insight into the choices we make in life.

When quoting a poem in an essay, use line numbers in parenthesis throughout the quote to indicate which lines of the poem you are citing. For example, if you were citing the first two lines of The Road Not Taken, you would write:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both (1-2).

After you have introduced the quote and cited the lines, provide context for the reader by discussing how the quote relates to your essay topic.

When citing multiple lines of poetry, list each line number after the first line number in your in-text citation. For example, if you were quoting lines 3-5 of The Road Not Taken, you would write:

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth (3-5).

Finally, include a full citation for the poem in your works cited page. The citation should include the authors name, title of the poem, publication information, and medium of publication.