Endstopped And Runon Stanzas

Let's define them: When a punctuation mark, usually a period, appears at the end of a line, the line is end-stopped. In other words, the reader is forced to take a pause before continuing to the next line. That pause is even greater when the last line of a stanza is end-stopped, because the reader must take two pauses —one for the end-stopped line and another for the white space that follows. When no punctuation mark appears at the end of a line, the line is called enjambed or run-on. Now the reader freely continues from one line to the next, without much of a pause. When the last line of a stanza is run-on, however, the reader hesitates momentarily to span the white space between stanzas.

An end-stopped stanza is especially effective if the poet wants to suggest memories punctuated, as it were, by long pauses or shifts in time. To illustrate, let's consider an early Bruce Weigl poem from his book A Romance (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979):

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