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Could someone please help me fix the following problem? I want to typeset an indented paragraph in italics. Using the verse package, the paragraph typesets without a problem, but when I try to add emphasis or an italic font there are error messages. Here is a minimum working example:

Example 1: properly set (though it could be centered better on other than letter paper)

\documentclass[11pt]{memoir}
\usepackage{geometry}   
\geometry{letterpaper}  
\usepackage{verse}
\begin{document}

As porcelain and cast iron beat out their clanging melody in Mrs. Dreyfus' kitchen, I
could hear the ineluctable screech of the saintly concertina, I could actually see the 
obese silhouette of the now anonymous musician with his black and silver bandoneón, his
stubby hands inhaling and exhaling the pain of his own private tango: Come on, woman, 
a little more rum, and close your polyester dress, because I saw your heart, naked in 
the  crystal that was trembling as I listened to your song.


\begin{verse}
A song to murder my sadness,\\\

To put me to sleep, to silence me.\\\

And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.\\\

And in the sensible sorrow that my drunkenness gives me, \\\

I ask you to sing your song for me like before,\\\

slowly, yes slowly, \\\

just one more time.\\\

\end{verse}

\centerline{*****}
\bigskip

The tango invited me to yet another round, but as I reached for the bottle of Ricard,
I heard the tinkling of a porcelain bell:  faint, but obnoxious all the same.  I 
released my hold on the neck of the bottle, and wiping my nose, pretended that I had 
been reaching for a tissue.  Her head hoisted high like a lady peacock about to 
display her finery before a male suitor, Mrs. Dreyfus bestrode the dining-room table 
and shook the delicate artifact from side to side, apparently to signal that the roast 
chicken and fried potatoes were now ready.  "Please come and sit down, David."
\end{document}

Example 2: This produces an error message:

\documentclass[11pt]{memoir}
\usepackage{geometry}
\geometry{letterpaper}  
\usepackage{verse}    
\begin{document}

As porcelain and cast iron beat out their clanging melody in Mrs. Dreyfus' kitchen, I 
could hear the ineluctable screech of the saintly concertina, I could actually see the 
obese silhouette of the now anonymous musician with his black and silver bandoneón, 
his stubby hands inhaling and exhaling the pain of his own private tango: Come on, 
woman, a little more rum, and close your polyester dress, because I saw your heart, 
naked in the crystal that was trembling as I listened to your song.

\begin{verse}
\emph {A song to murder my sadness,\\\

To put me to sleep, to silence me.\\\

And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.\\\

And in the sensible sorrow that my drunkenness gives me, \\\

I ask you to sing your song for me like before,\\\

slowly, yes slowly, \\\

just one more time.}\\\

\end{verse}

\centerline{*****}
\bigskip

The tango invited me to yet another round, but as I reached for the bottle of Ricard, 
I heard the tinkling of a porcelain bell:  faint, but obnoxious all the same.  I 
released my hold on the neck of the bottle, and wiping my nose, pretended that I had 
been reaching for a tissue.  Her head hoisted high like a lady peacock about to 
display her finery before a male suitor, Mrs. Dreyfus bestrode the dining-room table 
and shook the delicate artifact from side to side, apparently to signal that the roast 
chicken and fried potatoes were now ready.  "Please come and sit down, David."

\end{document}

I'm using Texshop and MacTex 2009.

share|improve this question
    
What do you mean by "centered better"? Remember that the verse environment in LaTeX does not center its content. It merely indents the environment contents. –  Werner Oct 3 '11 at 20:15
    
The "minimum working example" you provide isn't quite so minimal -- none of the text either before or after the verse environment does anything for the sake of explaining the problem you're experiencing. –  Mico Oct 3 '11 at 20:39
    
@Mico: I've seen far worse examples, and not only from new users. –  lockstep Oct 3 '11 at 20:47

4 Answers 4

Instead of \emph, use \itshape. The latter changing the font shape (to italics), does not require an argument and can span the entire scope of the verse environment without affecting the rest of your document. This scope if defined by the verse environment's \begin and \end pair - referred to as grouping.

If you want the verse centered, I would suggest using a combination of the center and varwidth environments. The latter, provided by the varwidth package is very similar to the minipage environment:

\begin{varwidth}{<width>}
   ...
\end{varwidth}

That is, it takes as mandatory argument, a width <width>, but scales to the natural width of the environment contents if it is narrower.

\documentclass[11pt]{memoir}
\usepackage{varwidth}% http://ctan.org/pkg/varwidth
\usepackage[letterpaper]{geometry}   % http://ctan.org/pkg/geometry
\begin{document}

As porcelain and cast iron beat out their clanging melody in Mrs. Dreyfus' kitchen, I could hear the ineluctable screech of the saintly concertina, I could actually see the obese silhouette of the now anonymous musician with his black and silver bandoneón, his stubby hands inhaling and exhaling the pain of his own private tango: Come on, woman, a little more rum, and close your polyester dress, because I saw your heart, naked in the crystal that was trembling as I listened to your song.

\begin{verse}
\emph{A song to murder my sadness,\\
To put me to sleep, to silence me.\\
And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.\\
And in the sensible sorrow that my drunkenness gives me,\\
I ask you to sing your song for me like before,\\
slowly, yes slowly,\\
just one more time.}
\end{verse}

\centerline{*****}
\bigskip

The tango invited me to yet another round, but as I reached for the bottle of Ricard, I heard the tinkling of a porcelain bell:  faint, but obnoxious all the same.  I released my hold on the neck of the bottle, and wiping my nose, pretended that I had been reaching for a tissue.  Her head hoisted high like a lady peacock about to display her finery before a male suitor, Mrs. Dreyfus bestrode the dining-room table and shook the delicate artifact from side to side, apparently to signal that the roast chicken and fried potatoes were now ready. ``Please come and sit down, David.''

\newpage

As porcelain and cast iron beat out their clanging melody in Mrs. Dreyfus' kitchen, I could hear the ineluctable screech of the saintly concertina, I could actually see the obese silhouette of the now anonymous musician with his black and silver bandoneón, his stubby hands inhaling and exhaling the pain of his own private tango: Come on, woman, a little more rum, and close your polyester dress, because I saw your heart, naked in the crystal that was trembling as I listened to your song.

\begin{center}
\begin{varwidth}{\linewidth}
\itshape A song to murder my sadness,\\
To put me to sleep, to silence me.\\
And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.\\
And in the sensible sorrow that my drunkenness gives me,\\
I ask you to sing your song for me like before,\\
slowly, yes slowly,\\
just one more time.
\end{varwidth}
\end{center}

\centerline{*****}
\bigskip

The tango invited me to yet another round, but as I reached for the bottle of Ricard, I heard the tinkling of a porcelain bell:  faint, but obnoxious all the same.  I released my hold on the neck of the bottle, and wiping my nose, pretended that I had been reaching for a tissue.  Her head hoisted high like a lady peacock about to display her finery before a male suitor, Mrs. Dreyfus bestrode the dining-room table and shook the delicate artifact from side to side, apparently to signal that the roast chicken and fried potatoes were now ready. ``Please come and sit down, David.''

\end{document}

Centered varwidth vs verse

The above example shows the same content on two pages. The left page uses \emph and the verse environment (as suggested in other answers), while the page on the right uses \itshape and the varwidth environment. Click on the image to view it full size and compare.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks. Werner: by "centered better" I meant increase the indentation. I tried \verse[1em]; [2em] and \narrower but didn't get a better result. Others: I realize the working example is lengthy but I don't know what is causing the problem. I thought that extra blank lines are ignored by LaTex, I didn't know that the "\\" command (by the way, I was using the "\\" command at the end of each verse line, but I wrote "\\\" because for some reason typing "\\" in preview yielded only a single backslash. I'll try \itshape and thanks again. –  tesseract420 Oct 3 '11 at 21:36

In your first example, the empty lines (i.e., paragraphs) between verse lines are just superfluous. In your second example, they are harmful because paragraphs are not allowed in the argument of \emph. Remove them, or even better (as Werner suggested) use \itshape instead of \emph. Also, replace \\\ with \\ to achieve correct spacing.

EDIT: Within the verse environment, empty lines (paragraphs) denote stanzas, while \\ should be used for line breaks within a stanza. That is, using \itshape or \em will work for multi-stanza verses, while a single \emph won't.

\documentclass[11pt]{memoir}

\usepackage{geometry}   

\geometry{letterpaper}  

\usepackage{verse}

\begin{document}

As porcelain and cast iron beat out their clanging melody in Mrs. Dreyfus' kitchen, I could hear the ineluctable screech of the saintly concertina, I could actually see the obese silhouette of the now anonymous musician with his black and silver bandoneón, his stubby hands inhaling and exhaling the pain of his own private tango: Come on, woman, a little more rum, and close your polyester dress, because I saw your heart, naked in the crystal that was trembling as I listened to your song.

\begin{verse}
\emph{A song to murder my sadness,\\
To put me to sleep, to silence me.\\
And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.\\
And in the sensible sorrow that my drunkenness gives me,\\
I ask you to sing your song for me like before,\\
slowly, yes slowly,\\
just one more time.}
\end{verse}

\centerline{*****}
\bigskip

The tango invited me to yet another round, but as I reached for the bottle of Ricard, I heard the tinkling of a porcelain bell:  faint, but obnoxious all the same.  I released my hold on the neck of the bottle, and wiping my nose, pretended that I had been reaching for a tissue.  Her head hoisted high like a lady peacock about to display her finery before a male suitor, Mrs. Dreyfus bestrode the dining-room table and shook the delicate artifact from side to side, apparently to signal that the roast chicken and fried potatoes were now ready.  "Please come and sit down, David."

\end{document}
share|improve this answer

As Ulrike Fischer explained in her answer to the question What is the difference between \em and \emph?, the commands \textit{}, \emph{}, and \textbf{} (to name a few) take an argument -- the text that the font change applies to -- whereas \itshape, \em, and \bfseries are switch-type commands which do not take an argument; their scope ends when the current environment or group ends. For most users, the main substantial difference between argument-type and switch-type font commands is that the former can not be applied across paragraph breaks, whereas the latter can.

With this introduction out of the way, it's clear that the reason the \emph{} command fails in your example code is that you have (unnecessary?) empty lines between the lines of verse; the empty lines create the paragraph breaks. If you do not want to get rid of the blank input lines, you'll have to use either the \em or \itshape command to typeset the stanzas in the italic font shape.

share|improve this answer

If you want to center the poem, use the \versewidth facility of the verse package:

\settowidth{\versewidth}{And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.}
\begin{verse}[\versewidth]
\linespread{1.2}\itshape
A song to murder my sadness,\\
To put me to sleep, to silence me.\\
And in the cold of this bar-room table, we are both drunk, both drunk.\\
And in the sensible sorrow that my drunkenness gives me, \\
I ask you to sing your song for me like before,\\
slowly, yes slowly, \\
just one more time.
\end{verse}

You set \versewidth to the width of the longer verse. The \linespread{1.2}\itshape has the effect of spacing out the poem lines and typesetting them in italics. Shouldn't you want italics, change \itshape into \selectfont (but I don't recommend to space out the lines).

share|improve this answer

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