Caesura

By Madison Marrone

Definition

By definition, a caesura is a pause in a line or verse which marks a rhythmic point of division.

Use

A caesura is most commonly marked like this: ||


If all the pauses in a poem occured at the end of the line, the sound of it could become dull. Moving these pauses so they occur within the line creates a musical tone and therefore increases the interest level of the poem.


A caesura is formed by the rhythms of natural speech rather than by metrics. It will usually occur near the middle of a poetic line, but can also occur at the beginning or the end of a line. In poetry, there are two types of caesural breaks: feminine and masculine.

Literary Examples

An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope

Know then thyself II, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind II is Man.
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great:



Winter's Tale by Shakespeare

It is for you we speak, || not for ourselves:

You are abused || and by some putter-on

That will be damn'd for't; || would I knew the villain,

I would land-damn him. || Be she honour-flaw'd,

I have three daughters; || the eldest is eleven

The second and the third, || nine, || and some five;

If this prove true, || they'll pay for't. || By mine honour. (Act II, sc. I :142-148)