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Macro-Typography of Poetry: 5

Multi-line units

A further major feature of poetry is the division of longer poems into stanzas, which not only mark places for longer pauses when the poem is recited but also loosen up the visual presentation and often indicate the place where the metrical scheme comes full cycle. To separate the stanzas, printers inserted leading and the poet at the typewriter pressed the linefeed lever. In the online age, stanzas are likely to continue being marked off by white space, but it is no longer necessary to insert this empty space between the stanzas in the source file. That can be left to the stylesheet, provided the mark-up distinguishes the stanzas.

In HTML, this is easily accomplished by turning every stanza into a DIV and adding some kind of margin at the bottom. Remember that CSS margins are empty space and transparent, so the background color of the overall poem DIV will show through. The stanza DIVs nest inside the poem DIV and can for example be declared as follows: .stanza {margin-bottom: 2em;}

Note that this will also give the final stanza an ample margin, and padding at the bottom of the poem will begin to appear enormous. Reduce the padding somewhat to restore visual equilibrium. See how this has been done in the example.

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Examples: • SimpleWrappingRhymeSonnetCadenceCascadeStanzasCaesura