I am not an expert on poetry but I was wondering whether punctuation necessarily indicates a caesura. For instance, when reading some poems, I instinctively ignore commas within lines due to the fast-paced rhythm. Therefore, would that still be considered a caesura or not?

  • No. Surely not necessarily.
    – NofP
    Jan 31, 2022 at 23:34
  • 1
    I think caesura usually refers to a stronger break than a comma. If you end a sentence in the middle of the line, which suggests a longer beat than a comma, I think that would be a caesura. For my own writing, I'm less concerned about what it is called than I am about how long I want that pause to be. Feb 1, 2022 at 19:43
  • It might help to have some examples, to clarify what exactly you are asking. As other people say, a caesura is a type of pause, but not all pauses are caesurae. You can have an almost imperceptible break in a line, or a big heavy break in a line: there are many rhythmical possibilities with poetry, depending on the metre, style, poetic form, etc. A few forms habitually have a caesura in all/most lines, but in English lots of poetic forms do not.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 4, 2022 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


Punctuation that in prose would indicate a pause or a break (as does the end of the line or stanza) cause the reader to pause in poetry. The length of the pause partly depends on the punctuation mark. Obviously, things like inverted commas don't make a reader hesitate. The length of the pause can be partly determined by the metre the poet has set up.

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