Line Groups

poem
l lg

The lg element is used to identify groupings of verse lines that carry significance for the project doing the encoding. There is no rule in TEI stating that you must encode all stanzas, or all couplets, or any other phenomenon, with lg. On the contrary, lg is a way of marking the groupings that are relevant to your own purposes.

The lg element is in many ways like div, in that it is used both to mark structural groupings and their relationships, and also to describe these groupings systematically using a controlled vocabulary encoded with the type attribute. As with div, the values for type are left to the individual project, and arriving at a good list before you start encoding is an important part of your document analysis process.

For most projects capturing poetry for purposes of general online access (rather than, for instance, linguistic analysis), the most common reasons to encode line groups are:

A complete system for describing verse needs to take into account the fact that verse structures are often composed of other verse structures: an ode might include several strophes, each of which might contain several smaller components (couplets, quatrains, etc.). You need to decide how much detail it is useful to capture. If your only goal is to describe renditional information, then any verse structure that is not renditionally distinct can be ignored. If you don’t think your users can use information about individual couplets, then there is no point in encoding them.

What follows is a system for describing verse forms, based on that used at the Women Writers Project. It is fairly detailed, and its goal is to specifically identify and name any verse form which the text signals renditionally (using white space or indentation). It also provides the information necessary to support searching on particular verse forms (for instance, limiting a search to just within sonnets, or to exclude poems with more than three stanzas). The topics below address the encoding of verse from the outside in, moving from describing the entire poem to describing its component parts, and from describing more specific and easily-defined forms to describing forms whose nature is less certain.

The whole poem: how to handle poetic forms at the highest level

Fixed-form poems: those that have a definite, regular form with an agreed-upon name

Stanzas and generic forms: those with a regular stanzaic structure

Longer or irregular verse forms: long narrative forms consisting of verse paragraphs

Excerpted and quoted poems: situations where you are not sure whether you have the entire poem or what form it’s in