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Tags for Marking Verse

Guidelines for SGML Text Mark-up at the Electronic Text Center
David Seaman, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia
[ornament]

These tags are in addition to the general markup tags described in the Practical Introduction to the Tag Set

<lg>

Within a poetic hierarchy, the "smallest" distinct unit of poetic composition gets the element tag <lg> rather than a structural division tag. <lg> </lg> identifies a group of lines, such as a stanza or a sonnet.

Thus a poem broken into stanzas would be tagged:

<div1 type="poem">
<lg type="stanza">
<l> [text of verse] </l>
</lg>

In a more highly structured poem, each of the upper and middle units would receive divisional tags while the lowest level gets tagged with the line grouping. Thus, in a poem arranged poem-book-canto- stanza:

<div1 type="poem">
<div2 type="book">
<div3 type="canto">
<lg type="stanza">

The verse structural division tags commonly contain additional descriptive attributes such as:

  • n=
  • title=

<l> : Each line within a line group must be tagged <l> which often has the attribute n="".

If a metrical line <l> is incomplete or is shared by more than one character, mark each line with <l>, using the attribute part= and one of the following values:

  • part="Y" : the line is metrically incomplete
  • part="N" : the line is incomplete or no claim is made to completeness
  • part="I" : the initial part of an incomplete line
  • part="M" : the medial part(s) of an incomplete line
  • part="F" : the final part of an incomplete line


Sample Tagged Verse

Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark



<div1 type="fit" n="1">
<head> Fit the First: THE LANDING </head>
<pb n="45" />
<lg type="stanza">
<l>"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,</l>
<l rend="indent">As he landed his crew with care;</l>
<l>Supporting each man on the top of the tide</l>
<l rend="indent">By a finger entwined in his hair.</l>
</lg>

<pb n="46" />

<lg type="stanza">
<l>"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:</l>
<l rend="indent">That alone should encourage the crew.</l>
<l>Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:</l>
<l rend="indent">What I tell you three times is true."</l>
</lg>

[ETC....]
</div1>

To see what this encoding actually looks like, Click Here.

For a more extensive example of how to tag poetry, see Poe's Annabel Lee

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