1. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    quoting lines of song or verse

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by madhoca, May 15, 2010.

    Apologies if this has come up before, but I've not been able to find a guide to quoting lines of song or verse as part of someone speaking. I mean, how should the punctuation change? (Note that I have to use British punctuation, like single speech marks for dialogue and double for quotes, for the publisher I'm submitting to, please don't let's go into which you personally prefer, or think is correct!)

    The lines I want to quote are from the Harrow school song 'Forty Years On', and when you look at the way the words are usually printed, they go:

    Forty years on, when afar and asunder
    Parted are those who are singing today

    Now, I want to write something like:

    'We used to sing "Forty years on, when afar and asunder, parted are those who are singing today", didn't we?'

    The question is, is it right to put a comma before 'parted' and join the lines as I have done, so that it reads as one flowing sentence? And does this apply to poetry also, e.g.

    From the river winding clearly
    Down to tower'd Camelot

    Becomes:

    A shadow crossed her face. ‘Father loved Tennyson’s poems, and liked us to recite to him,’ she explained in a quieter voice. ‘How did it go? Oh, yes, “From the river winding clearly, down to tower’d Camelot”.’

    And before anyone wonders why I want to quote this old (and copyright-free) song and poem, I only quote twice in the whole novel, which is set in 1883. Actually, when I remember my (Canfordian, not Harrovian) grandfather and his old school friends, that is not much, considering that his generation were always dropping such nuggets when they spoke (he was born in 1898). However, this would probably be more than any modern reader could, or would, put up with, so historical accuracy when writing dialogue needs to be flexible here!
     
  2. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    The Oxford Style Manual (13.7.2—In text quotations) discusses this. It says:

    Verse quotations run in with (prose) text are treated like any other quoted matter. It is OUP’s preference to indicate the division between each line by a vertical (|) rather than a solidus (/), with a space either side...

    It also adds that once set the vertical must not start a new turn line.

    But I’ll keep an eye out for this when I am reading, and (if I see an example) will let you know how it was done!
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's ok for a line from a song lyric, as you've done there, but since format is so essential to poetry, i'd say you should insert the poem as a block indent, to keep its form and character intact...
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^ Thank you!
     

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