End-stopped line

The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018

End-stopped line

End-stopped line: A line of poetry whose meaning is complete in itself and that ends with a grammatical pause marked by punctuation. End-stopped lines are distinguished from run-on lines, which exhibit enjambement.

EXAMPLES: Each of the four lines of this stanza from William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” (1794) is end-stopped:

I was angry with my friend:

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe:

I told it not, my wrath did grow.

In the first stanza of the poem “Oread” (1924) by H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), all but the third and fourth lines (which demonstrate enjambement) are end-stopped. The third line is not end-stopped because there is no grammatical pause after the word pines; the fourth line is not end-stopped because the meaning of the line is not complete in itself:

Whirl up, sea,—

whirl your pointed pines,

splash your great pines

on our rocks,

hurl your green over us,

cover us with your pools of fir.