Formatting Poetry

Reading time ~2 minutes

I have been browsing Jekyll themes lately, and found a very nice theme for academics, the Ed. Theme. Its main purpose seems to be publishing classic texts and poetry on the web, and it includes some very handy tools.

Getting indentation right is a problem with poetry on the web. For example, consider these lines from “The Code—Heroics” by Robert Frost.

Here is the Markdown source:

What was there wrong?
                     Something you said just now.
What did I say?
               About our taking pains.

Even though it contains the proper indentation, it renders like this:

What was there wrong?
Something you said just now.
What did I say?
About our taking pains.

Now, stripping out extra whitespace is generally a good thing, but I don’t want it to happen with poetry. With help from the CSS in the .Ed theme, I can get the indentation right.

- What was there wrong?
- {:.indent-10}Something you said just now.
- What did I say?
- {:.indent-6}About our taking pains.
{:.poetry}

Ed. sets poetry as an unordered list, with each line as a list item. List style is set to “none” and the indented lines contain an “indent-x” attribute. This produces these properly indented lines:

  • What was there wrong?
  • {:.indent-10}Something you said just now.
  • What did I say?
  • {:.indent-65}About our taking pains. {:.poetry}

Ed. also contains formatting tools for bibliographies. It’s built on Lanyon, the theme that I use, so it was easy for me to just add the CSS that I wanted to my existing site.

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