How to Write a Caesura
Bear in mind that caesura is really a feature of how poems are read, not how they’re written. That’s why this article includes the || mark to show caesurae. Because of this, there’s no way to guarantee that a reader will pause in the middle of the line the way you want them to. However, certain punctuation marks such as commas, semicolons, and periods are a pretty reliable way to get the reader to pause and include a caesura.
Read these lines out loud and see if you can see how punctuation encourages readers to either include or omit a caesura:
- Over time, she worked her way ashore
- Over time she worked her way ashore
- I came for the popcorn and I stayed for the movie.
- I came for the popcorn; I stayed for the movie.
When to use Caesura
Unless you’re writing in a specific classical meter such as accentual verse (Anglo-Saxon) or dactylic hexameter (Greek), there are no rules on when to use caesura! Just include it in your poetry or verse wherever you think it sounds best.