Caesura is a poetry term. It refers to a break in a line of poetry, where the reader takes a pause based on the rhythmic flow of the poetry or due to punctuation. Sometimes it occurs at a natural place in the flow of the line of poetry; at other times it is more abrupt. A caesura is sometimes indicated with the following symbol (II). Often caesura is not marked at all in the poetry, and it is just indicated by how the speaker says the lines. In the examples below, the symbol has been inserted.
From Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale:
It is for you we speak, II not for ourselves;
You are abused II and by some putter-on
That will be damn'd for't; II would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him. II Be she honour-flaw'd.
I have three daughters; II the eldest is eleven.
From "Sing a Song of Sixpence":
Sing a song of sixpence, II a pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty black birds, II baked in a pie.
From "The Star-Spangled Banner":
Oh, say can you see II by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed II as the twilights last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars II through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched II were so gallantly streaming.
From Emily Dickenson's "I'm Nobody":
I'm nobody! II Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us II-don't tell!
They'd advertise II-you know!
Line Break Examples