Caesura

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

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Caesura

(Latin: “cutting”): the juncture between two grammatical units (e.g. successive phrases or clauses) when perceived as dividing a line of verse into segments, or half-lines (

cola

: singular

colon

). Caesurae may, but need not, be marked by punctuation:

Out of this wood || do not desire to go: Thou shalt remain here, || whether thou wilt or no. (A Midsummer Nights Dream 3.1.155-6)

Out of this wood || do not desire to go: Thou shalt remain here, || whether thou wilt or no. (

A Midsummer Nights Dream

3.1.155-6)

The caesura in the first line of Titania’s splendidly imperious command is produced by the trailing edge of the fronted adverbial phrase “out of this wood” if we undo the syntactic inversion we see that the caesura disappears and the line is much flatter: “Do not desire

1690 words

Citation: Groves, Peter Lewis. "Caesura". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 October 2004 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=153, accessed 20 May 2024.]

153 Caesura 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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