Run-on Line, Enjambment (446 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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


Enjambment (pron. injámment): incomplete syntax at the end of the line. In the following example, the string what thou and I is looking for a verb to complete it, but the line-ending interrupts the onward pressure of the syntax, creating a kind of tension that is released when the verb is encountered at the beginning of the next line:

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I »
Did, till we lovd? Were we not weand till then?
(John Donne, The Good-morrow)

The word or phrase that completes the syntax and releases the tension is called the rejet (underlined in these examples): where the rejet is brief, as in the Donne example, the release is energetic, b…

Groves, Peter Lewis. "Run-on Line, Enjambment". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001; last revised 11 February 2005.
[, accessed 17 November 2019.]

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