31 pages • 1 hour readFrank O'Hara
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“Ave Maria” is written in free verse, which is a poem without a traditional meter or structure. Free verse is often used to create an intimate or conversational quality in a poem. However, it relies heavily on enjambment (see below) and dropped lines to create its artistic shape. “Dropped lines” refers to non-traditional line breaks where certain lines are indented to create a new structure. In “Ave Maria,” most second lines are indented one step past where the previous line left off, with exceptions where the same thought or idea continues through two or more left-justified lines.
In addition, the poem uses very little punctuation and few capital letters. Capitals are limited to proper nouns and acronyms (TV) while punctuation is limited to only one exclamation mark at the opening of the poem and one comma. There are no periods; independent clauses run into each other without a break. This style gives the poem a stream-of-consciousness effect. It contains 36 lines in one continuous stanza.