What effect does enjambment have on a poem?

1 Answer
Jun 4, 2017

It lets multiple and complicated ideas be expressed in a way which continues the rhythm of the poem, making it sound natural instead of staggered.


Enjambment is often used to keep the rhythm of a poem going, since placing permanent punctuation like colons and periods can halt the flow of a writing piece. Take, for example, Shakespeare's "Winter Tale," in which the character Hermione passionately says:

"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….”

In reading this passage, the use of enjambment forces the reader to keep reading each subsequent line, since the meaning of one line can only be found by reading the next. By doing this multiple meaning can be expressed without confusion, and in a way which furthers the natural rhythm of the poem.

I hope that helped!