Poetry and Prose: What’s the Difference?

Nearly all writing shares the goal of communicating a message to an
audience, but how that message is communicated can differ greatly.
The divisions between poetry and prose aren’t clear-cut, but here are some
generally accepted differences.
Most everyday writing is in prose form.
The language of prose is typically straightforward without much decoration.
Ideas are contained in sentences that are arranged into paragraphs.
There are no line breaks. Sentences run to the right margin.
The first word of each sentence is capitalized.
Prose looks like large blocks of words.
Poetry is typically reserved for expressing something special in an
artistic way.
The language of poetry tends to be more expressive or decorated, with
comparisons, rhyme, and rhythm contributing to a different sound and
Ideas are contained in lines that may or may not be sentences. Lines are
arranged in stanzas.
Poetry uses line breaks for various reasons—to follow a formatted
rhythm or to emphasize an idea.
Lines can run extremely long or be as short as one word or letter.
Traditionally, the first letter of every line is capitalized, but many modern
poets choose not to follow this rule strictly.
The shape of poetry can vary depending on line length and the
intent of the poet.

1. one of the sections into which certain long poems are divided.
“Dante ‘s Divine Comedy has 100 cantos”

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