I came across below poetry lines from The Righteous Life: The Very Best of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam book I'm currently reading. I'm not quite used to or familiar with understanding poem lines.

My worthiness is all my doubt—

His merit—all my fear—

Contrasting which my quality

Does however—appear.

  1. How to read these lines and interpret the meaning? Where to pause/break and combine words while reading to understand their actual meaning?
  2. Does every line (in all poems), always start with a capital letter regardless of the start or end of a sentence?

Any other resources or recommendations for interpreting poem lines, in general, are also appreciated.

  • The dashes indicate the pauses. Yes, it is traditional to begin each line of a poem with a capital letter. Mar 6, 2023 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


One of the rules of poetry is that there are no rules.

The dashes are a good example of rule-breaking. English doesn't use dashes like this. You might choose to interpret them as pauses. Normal English should use some other punctuation, like commas or full stops. This poem breaks that rule.

Many poems do start each line with a capital letter (but other poems break that rule).

Just as there are no rules that can't be broken for writing poetry. There are no rules that can't be broken for analysis. Try asking questions, and don't worry too much if you don't have answers.

You can ask questions like

  • Why did the author use that word/image?
  • How does this poem make me feel?
  • How does the poem make me feel that feeling? (yes lots of feelings are discussed in literature!)

And (this is important) don't ask anybody else for the answers! The important part is how you respond to the poem. There are no right answers (so it would be a bit pointless asking here) Your response is as valid as mine.

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