On 19 Jun 2008, at 10:08, James Jeffery wrote:

A question was raised at work today 'How do you mark up a poem'.

I looked into it but found nothing worthy. My original thought was to use P's and class names, but one article I read said XML is perfect for this case.

Whats your views on this, anyone actually did it before?

Historically each stanza in a poem is a paragraph. Layout (new lines) began punctuating paragraphs in the later Middle Ages. Prior to that the lines ran into one another with punctuation used to indicate where breaths and breaks in the running text occurred [1]. Syntactic punctuation was not commonplace until after Ben Johnson's English Grammar in 1640. That means that layout /is/ punctuation for modern poetry, so markup needs to reflect that. My recommendation would be <p> for stanzas and <br /> line breaks for most verse. To do anything that returns stanzas to running text when CSS is disabled would break the syntax of the verse /unless/ lines are specifically punctuated with something other than a break at the end; a comma for example. <pre> is an alternative but does not punctuate line ends at all, except visually. It would be interesting to know how alternative browsers handle both <br />s and single/double line breaks in <pre> blocks. Do they inject a pause or other aural boundary?

Jon Tan

[1] http://www.ualberta.ca/~sreimer/ms-course/course/punc.htm

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