WWP Encoding Guide: Excerpts and quotations

excerpt poem
l lg

The challenge in encoding quoted or excerpted poems is to determine whether the poem as quoted is complete or not, and what form it is in. If the poem is from a known source, this poses no difficulties, but if it is unfamiliar and the original cannot be located, certain kinds of encoding (for instance, identifying the verse form of the entire poem—e.g. sonnet, sestina, etc.) may not be possible for lack of evidence.

For purposes of extracting or processing the entire poem, we advise encoding the excerpt or quote within a wrapper lg element. If the poem is quoted in its entirety, then the type value for the wrapper will be the same as if the poem had appeared in any other context. For parts of poems, you will need to decide whether encoding (for instance) the first two quatrains of a sonnet as lg type="sonnet" is useful or not. For retrieval, it might well be useful to be able to locate parts of sonnets as well as complete sonnets, and to have search for love within sonnets locate instances within partially quoted sonnets. However, it is not strictly true that the excerpt is a sonnet, and this may have significance for searching and analysis: for instance, comparisons involving the final two lines of sonnets would be falsified if the special status of excerpts were not made explicit. If your encoding needs to support these kinds of advanced analysis, a different prefix could be used to indicate distinguish excerpts from full poems, e.g.:

<lg type="excerpt.sonnet">

The extra effort involved would only be justified if a clear case for the distinction could be made.

For poems whose form cannot be determined, use lg type="poem.indeterminate".