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MLA Citation Guide: Drama + Poetry

Citing Poetry - Commonly used examples

MLA 8th Edition — CITING POEMS — Commonly Used Examples:


Poetslastname, Firstname, MI. “Title of Poem.” Title of the Book, Publisher name,

          Publication date, Page(s).

MacLeish, Archibald.  “Ars Poetica.”  Collected Poems: 1917-1952,  Houghton Mifflin, 1952, p. 40.



Poetslastname, Firstname, MI. “Title of Poem.”  Title of the Book, Publisher name,

          Publication date, Page(s), Name of Database.

Frost, Robert.  “Good Hours.” North of Boston,  Henry Holt, 1915, p. 137.  Hathi Trust Digital Library.



Poetslastname, Firstname, MI.  “Title of Poem.”  Title of the Book, edited by Firstname MI. Lastname,

          Publisher name, Publication date, Page(s).

George, Kristine O’Connell.  “The Blue Between.”  Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets,

          edited by Paul B. Janecko, Candlewick Press, 2002, p. 37.



Poetslastname, Firstname, MI.  “Title of Poem.”  Title of the Book, edited by

            Lastname, Firstname, MI. and Firstname MI. Lastname, Publisher name, Publication date, Page(s).



Poetslastname, Firstname, MI.  “Title of Poem.”  Title of the Book, edited by Firstname MI. Lastname et al,

          Publisher, Publication date, Page(s).


Using an ellipsis / ellipses:    … Use at the beginning of a sentence … or shorten a sentence or phrase … including, in the middle or at the end of a sentence, using three dots …

LINE NUMBERS:  If you use only part of a poem, indicate which lines you have used, in parentheses.  Add after and below the final line of text, offset to the right:

                                                                                                                                                        (lines 10-18)


Poems of less than four lines, can be incorporated in your paper (using quotation marks), as if quoting prose. Put a forward slash at the end of each line to mark the line break in the original source:


In "The Poem," when William Carlos Williams writes, "It's all in/the sound" (1-2), he is arguing for the lyrical quality of words.


In the opening lines of "What is Love?", Sören Kierkegaard asks a series of questions: "What is is that makes a man great,/ admired by his fellow creatures,/ well pleasing in God's sight?" (74).

For quotes four lines or longer, create a block quote by indenting one inch from the left margin (maintaining double-spacing between the lines), adding no quotation marks that do not appear in the original. 


Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" is rich in evocative detail:

      It was winter. It got dark

      early. The waiting room

      was full of grown-up people,

      arctics and overcoats,

      lamps and magazines. (6-10)

Note: Please see MLA Handbook, 8th Edition, pp. 75-79 for further details.


Dialogue in your text

If you quote dialogue between two or more characters in a play, set the quotation off from your regular text. Begin each part of the dialogue with the appropriate character's name indented one inch from the left margin and written in all capital letters. Follow the name with a period and start the quotation. Stage directions are treated like other quoted text; they should be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original source. 


A short time later, Lear loses the final symbol of his former power, the soldiers who make up his train:

         GONERIL.                    Hear me, my lord.

            What need you five-and-twenty, ten or five,

            To follow in a house where twice so many

            Have a command to tend you?

         REGAN.                        What need one?

         LEAR. O, reason not the need! (2.4.254-58) 


Marguerite Duras's screenplay for Hiroshima mon amour suggests at the outset the profound different between observation and experience: 

         HE. You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing....

         SHE. I saw everything. Everything....The hospital, for instance, I saw it. I'm sure I did. There is a hospital in

            Hiroshima. How could I help seeing it? ...

Works Cited

Cite a play published as a stand-alone work as you would a book. If the play is part of an anthology, cite as such.


Henley, Beth. Crimes of the Heart. Dramatists Play Service, 1982.

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