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Semantic markup for poetry

Last updated: October 15, 2008

Testing different markup for poetry with screen readers (JAWS and Window-Eyes recent versions) with Internet Explorer 7.0. Tests are undertaken with default preference settings and text-to-speech engines. Further tests may follow.

If you find any of the information useful, or if you find anything to be incomplete or inaccurate, please let me know.

Summary

All of the tests undertaken so far show that recent versions of the main screen readers (JAWS and Window-Eyes) handle each markup example in pretty much the same fashion. However, it's worth noting that a poem marked up inside a pre element will not provide the same “hooks” that other markup provides.

Tests

Test 1: paragraphs and br

From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of 'chaste' unhappily set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

Listen to Test 1a

In summary, these are all spoken well.

Test 1b: paragraphs and br (spaces before the break as appropriate)

From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of 'chaste' unhappily set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

Listen to Test 1b

In summary, these are all spoken well.

Test 2: pre

From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
And girdle with embracing flames the waist
Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of 'chaste' unhappily set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

Listen to Test 2

In summary, these are all spoken well.

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