Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Weekly Scriblings #17: For certain, it's enjambment

Selective focus photography of dew on a pink tulip, Aaron Burden, Unsplash
“Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words. But on the other hand, here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can't dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than any words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.” ― Virginia Woolf

Hello everyone and welcome to another round of Weekly Scribblings! I have always loved the formation of sounds that the written word offers, the intonation and rhythm which in turn makes it more natural. So, I thought this week we'd try our hand and explore Enjambment.

Enjambment: Meaning, Use and Function 

French in origin, Enjambment means to step over or put legs across. It can be defined as a thought or sense, phrase or clause, in a line of poetry that does not come to an end at the line break, but moves over to the next line. In simple words, it is the running on of a sense from one couplet or line to the next without a major pause or syntactical break.

The function of enjambment in poetry is typically to allow an idea to continue beyond the limitations of a single line, often to reinforce certain ideas within the lines themselves.

It can be used to create the element of surprise for the reader by delaying the meaning until the next line, some writers use it for purpose of bringing humor into their work. Following are a few examples which further illustrate this concept:

Vernal Equinox 
by Amy Lowell

The scent of hyacinths, like a pale mist, lies
between me and my book;

And the South Wind, washing through the room,
Makes the candles quiver.
My nerves sting at a spatter of rain on the shutter,
And I am uneasy with the thrusting of green shoots
Outside, in the night.

Why are you not here to overpower me with your
tense and urgent love?

Like most poets, Lowell used a variety of lineation patterns. Three of the lines are enjambed while the others are end-stopped or parsed.

The Long Take
by Robin Robertson

At night, the river rolls and turns like oil
under the bridges,
in through the slips.
He walked for hours —
following the glow
in the sky uptown he’d been told
was the lights of Times Square —

his shadow moving with him
below the street-lamps: dense, tight,
very black and sharp, foreshortened, but already
starting to lengthen as he goes, attenuating
to a weak stain. Then back in
under another streetlight, shadow
darkening again, clean and hard.
Who he really is, or was,
lies somewhere in between.

Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116"
Four of the first eight lines of this sonnet by Shakespeare are enjambed.
Click here to find the source and read more

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
That alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

The Winter's Tale 
by William Shakespeare

“I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have
That honorable grief lodged here which burns
Worse than tears drown …”

Shakespeare frequently used Enjambment in his plays. The extract above is no different. The meaning flows from one line to the other and the reader is compelled to read the subsequent lines. 

Your Challenge today is to write using the literary device Enjambment. Feel free to address the current world situation, or perhaps delve into a memory of your own. Challenge the reader, surprise us with humor and wit, go solemn and dark or perhaps tender and romantic. The possibilities are endless! 

We at Poets and Storytellers United accept both poems and prose (i.e. stories, essays, articles) you may contribute more than one entry. Also, if you opt to write prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer. The Prompt will remain open until next Wednesday! 

Good luck composing your masterpieces. I look forward to reading what you come up with. Please do visit others and remember to comment on their work. Also, enjoy this music video by Sean Paul and Dua Lipa. Have fun!πŸ’˜


  1. Hey! Thanks Sanaa!!!I enjoyed this exercise!!

    1. Thank you so much, Vandana πŸ˜ƒ so good to see you! Happy Wednesday!πŸ’˜πŸΉ

  2. I too had lots of fun with this prompt, Sanaa. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Rosemary 😍 so glad you enjoyed it! Happy Wednesday!πŸ’˜πŸΉ

  3. Hope i got this. Thanks for today's prompt Sanaa.
    Happy Wednesday poets, storytellers, admirers


    1. You did a beautiful job of it, Gillena! Thank you so much for writing to the prompt πŸ˜ƒ Happy Wednesday!πŸ’˜πŸΉ

  4. Heaven help me, I am so entrenched in rhythm and rhyme and tidy complete sentences, enjambment seems to me to be merely prose strung out to appear to be in poetic form. I recall the man with OCD who couldn't step on the crack in the sidewalk. Enjambment sort of affects me that way! Thanks for the challenge. It encouraged me to attempt to get out of my box!

    1. I absolutely loved, loved it! Thank you so much, Beverly πŸ˜ƒ hope you have a wonderful day ahead!πŸ’˜πŸΉ

  5. I love using enjambment! Just didn't remember the name for it. :) Thank you, Sanaa, and happy Wednesday to all!

    1. I am so glad you do!πŸ˜ƒ Happy Wednesday, Jenna!πŸ’˜πŸΉ


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