Difference Between End-stopped Line and Enjambment

Main Difference – End-stopped Line vs Enjambment

End-stopped line and enjambment are two contrasting poetic devices. End-stopped lines refer to the phrases or sentences that at the end of a line of break whereas enjambed lines refer to the phrases and sentences that do not end at the end of a line; enjambed lines over the next line as well. This is the main difference between end-stopped line and enjambment.

What is End-stopped Line

The end-stopped line is a poetic device where a pause comes at the end of the syntactic unit – line. In simple terms, the sentence or the clause ends at the end of the line. This pause is expressed through punctuation such as full stop, colon, semi-colon, dash, or question marks. For example, look at the following excerpt from Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.”

You can observe that each line ends in a punctuation mark and contains an individual meaning. There are no incomplete sentences or run-on-lines.

Given below is another example of end-stopped lines from John Keats’ poem Bright Star.

“Bright Star, would I were as stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite….”

What is Enjambment

Enjambment is the opposite of end-stopped lines. What happens in enjambment is that the phrase or sentence does not end at the line break, but moves on to the next line. Therefore, it can be defined as the continuation of a sentence from one line to another, without terminal punctuation. Enjambment refers to the incomplete syntax at the end of a line.

“I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have
That honourable grief lodged here which burns
Worse than tears drown.”

This excerpt from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is a perfect example of enjambment. Only the last line (5th) contains an end-stopped line.

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.”

In this excerpt from T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land, only two lines (4th and 7th) are end-stopped. The rest of the lines are enjambed.

It is important to observe that many poets use a combination of enjambment and end-stopped lines to give their poems a fine flow and rhythm.

Difference Between End-stopped Line and Enjambment

Definition

End-stopped Line is the occurrence of a pause at the end of a line.

Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence from one line to another, without terminal punctuation.

Line Break

In End-stopped Line, the phrase or sentence stops at the end of the line.

In Enjambment, the phrase or sentence do not stop at the end of the line.

Punctuation Marks

End-stopped Line is marked by punctuation.

Enjambment is not marked by punctuation.

Meaning

End-stopped Line ensures that each line has their individual meaning.

Enjambment ensures that enjambed lines do not have individual meaning.Difference Between End-stopped Line and Enjambment - infographic

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