TEI special tag set for verse

caesura line group meter rhyme poem
lg l met real rhyme enjamb

The TEI provides a special base tag set for verse which includes some additional elements and attributes which would be needed to encode a detailed analysis of meter or rhyme.

The additional elements are caesura and (in P4 only) lg1 (lg2, etc.). The caesura element is only useful, as you might expect, in contexts where caesuras appear and require encoding: i.e. where encoding them will serve some analytical purpose. The numbered lgN elements in P4 function rather like numbered divN elements, in allowing you to track the level of nesting more explicitly. However, as with numbered divN, this ability is most useful as a support to encoders, and does not seem to add any actual analytical power.

The additional attributes are met, real, rhyme, and enjamb. These attributes (except for enjamb, which only makes sense as an attribute of l) may be used on div or divN, lg or lgN, l, or even smaller units, depending on the level of generality at which you want to record this information. There is detailed documentation of how to use these attributes in the TEI Guidelines, and this Guide will not attempt to duplicate that information here. However, there are some issues connected with their use which may be useful to discuss.

First of all, for all of these attributes, the actual values you use are determined by your project, rather than being specified by the TEI. However, the TEI Guidelines suggest some defaults and common notational systems (e.g. for indicating metrical patterns) which should be followed unless there is a good reason to use something different.

Second, before deciding to do this kind of markup, you should think about how you might use it, which in turn will help you determine the level of specificity at which you’ll capture the information. For instance, if you want to be able to use the metrical scheme of a poem as the basis for retrieval (e.g. find all the poems written in Spenserian stanzas), then you may only need to place the met attribute on the outermost element for the poem (e.g. the outermost lg or the enclosing div). However, if you want to be able to find poems in heroic couplets that contain occasional six-foot lines, you will need to encode some metrical information at the level of the individual verse line (e.g. marking the alexandrines as exceptions to the general metrical pattern). You should also consider whether this information is best captured as metrical information using met, or whether what you are really describing is genre. It may be enough to use the type attribute on div or lg with values like sonnet, spenserian, sestina, and so forth, if that is the level at which you’ll be using this information. The same considerations apply to the encoding of rhyme; you should ask whether you are likely to need information about specific line groups, or whether you need only record the general rhyme scheme for the entire poem.