Line endings in poetry: science or instinct?

So here’s a question: are our line endings in poetry governed by science or instinct? Should we be ruled by ‘the unit that is the line’ or should we respond to our own sense of rhythm and the imperative of the narrative? This is a thorny one. Personally, I try to do both (I don’t always succeed, obviously!). If the form of the poem allows, I keep the unit that is the line intact. If I break the line, it will be to propel the narrative, increase or decrease the pace, look for a shift in meaning, message. To me a poem works if it can combine the two methods and if it’s ‘style’ doesn’t subsume its meaning. That’s the aim anyway! One way, of course, is to write the poem as prose and break the lines afterwards. We did this in class once and no two people came out with the same poem. Interesting, eh?! Do let me know what you think and, in the meantime because I’m reading ‘Ariel’ …plath

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