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How to Cite a Poem - A Complete Guide

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How to Cite a Poem
 krishna   Published On Sep 3, 2021 | Updated on Aug 8, 2022  Assignment  0

If you are a beginner in paper citation, you may often wonder how to cite a poem? Citing and referencing a poem is not an easy task when you are writing a paper. There are several ways to cite a poem varying with the referencing style you choose. How you cite a poem in MLA for a poet essay is quite different, just lending from quotes a poem in other referencing style. Correctly quoting a poem, in-text citation helps the reader find the correct source of entry from the references. Quotations from poems are often separated with a slash or parenthesis in-text citation. In the case of long poems, it usually needs line numbers and page numbers.

How to quote a poem?

How to quote a poem in an essay differs with each referencing style. The most popular one is MLA. Suppose you quote a single line of a poem or part of a line, mark the lines in the quotation. For quoting numerous lines of a poem, you must follow some specific format. 

Quoting 2-3 lines

If you quote 2-3 lines for poetic essay examples, use a forward slash to denote the line break and add a space after the slash. Don't forget to use the exact punctuation, capitalization, and stylization as the original text. If there is a break, the stanza of the poem uses a double forward slash. 

For example: An encouraging line up-spirits them: "For the soul is dead that slumbers, / And things are not what they seem. // Life is real! Life is earnest! / And the grave is not its goal;"

Quoting four or more lines

To quote four or more lines from a poem, use a block quote. To block quote, a poem begins with a sentence ending with a colon. Then quote a new line indenting it half an inch from the left margin without any quotation mark. Include all the line breaks and the unusual spacing, reproducing it as close to the original as possible. 

Referencing quotes

Just like the way you reference other sources in your research paper, a poem quoted in the main text body must be referenced as well. If you ask, "do you put poem titles in quotes?” The answer is yes. The works cited entry in MLA style mandates beginning the reference with the poet's name, followed by the poem's quoted title. Then the source details of the published poem are included based on the format you follow while searching how to cite a poem from a book or homework help website.  

For example: Wild, Adrienne. "Crows" Crows: Poems 1999–2001, W. V. Norton, 2002, p. 25.

How to cite a poem in MLA?

When you think of learning how to MLA cite a poem, you must know how to cite lines and pages in a poem and cite the same poem consecutively. In addition, an in-text citation for a poem must begin with the poet's last name for ease in locating the complete reference in work cited list.

To cite lines of a poem

When line numbers are placed in the margin

When line numbers are placed in the margin, use the poet's name and a comma before the word line or lines in the first sentence of the citation. In the subsequent citations, use only the numbers. using the example mentioned above, "Life is real! Life is earnest! / And the grave is not its goal;" (Longfellow, lines 5 – 6)

If no line number is displayed

If no line number is displayed in the poem's source, experts advise not to count them manually. Instead, use the page numbers if the poem is published on multiple pages. For example, "Life is real! Life is earnest! / And the grave is not its goal;" (Longfellow 133)

If no line/page number is available

Suppose you source the poem from a website or the poem is published on just one page without any line/page number then, mention only the poet's name. For example, "Life is real! Life is earnest! / And the grave is not its goal;" (Longfellow).  

If you have already mentioned the poet in the introduction of the quotation, no line/page number or parenthetical citation is needed.

To Consecutively cite the same Poem

If you need to mention the same poem recurrently in a paragraph, mention the author's name in the first citation. For the subsequent citations, drop in only the line or page numbers (if mentioned in the source) to clarify that you are still citing the context from the same poem. However, if you cite the same poem in the subsequent paragraphs, mention the full citation.

How to write a poetry essay?

a poetry essay analyses how a poet has used the words, sounds, feelings, and topics in the poem. It must include the evaluation of the subject, message, rhythm, and word choice in the essay's body; like every other essay, it must also have an introduction and a conclusion.


When you think "how to write the title of a poem in an essay?" you think of the introduction. The introductory paragraph introduces the poem to be analyzed. It includes a summary of the contents of the poem. For example, a summary of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" will highlight the narrator's longing for his lost love. 

Language and imagery

the body speaks about the poetic language and imagery. For example, it analyses how a poet uses to bring out the precise and detailed image of the poem? What literary tools does the poet take aid to enhance the meaning of the poem?

Sound and sense

It examines the rhythm, meter, or sound used in the poem, like its sound creates a better picture. If any vocabulary used in the sentence can appeal to a reader's five senses, etc.

Emotion and feeling

This section scrutinizes the mood and feeling of the poem. Does the poem have the calibre to impact your mood? Do you feel happy or das reading the poem? What kind of emotional response does the poet provoke through the poem? 


The analysis of the poem ends in this paragraph. Finally, this section analyses whether the poet has been successful with his/ her intention to write the poetry with supporting paragraphs.

How to quote lyrics in an essay

The way you quote lyrics in an essay depends on how you access them.


If you cite lyrics from a CD or DVD, you may refer to the song in your academic writing like: 

"Moon like a spotlight on the lake," Taylor Swift sang in Tim McGraw.

An album

You can write the works cited reference for the album that includes the song. In MLA citation format, you must mention the singer/band's name as the author, the album's name in place of the source title, and add in the publisher and date as usual. In this case, the reference will look like this:

Taylor Swift. Tim McGraw. Big Machine Records, 2006. CD.

A booklet

If you cite the song from a booklet available with the CD, the description of the source becomes the source title and the name of the album becomes the container. For example:

Taylor Swift. Booklet. Tim McGraw, Big Machine Records, 2006

A website

If you cite the song's lyrics from a website, you must add the website's name and description instead of the source's title. For example:

Taylor Swift. Lyrics to "Tim McGraw." Genius, 2006, Taylor-swift-tim-mcgraw-lyrics.

Thus the discussion above highlights all the essential information you need to cite a poem. 

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