What is a Cinquain?
Definition of Cinquain
Cinquain can be defined as,
“Any short poem consisting of five, usually unrhymed lines containing, respectively, two, four, six, eight, and two syllables.”
History and Origin
The cinquain form was invented by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey, while the inspiration for the development of this poetry form has been drawn from the Japanese haiku and tanka.
Her famous collection of poetry, Verse, published in 1915 consists of 18 Cinquain poems. Carl Sandburg and Louis Utermeyer are some other notable poets who have utilized this form in their poetry.
Pattern of Cinquain Poems
Line1: Two syllables
Line2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables
Forms of Cinquain
Crapsey cinquains utilize an increasing syllable count in the first four lines, namely two in the first, four in the second, six in the third, and eight in the fourth, and then two syllables again in the last line.
Each line in the majority of Crapsey cinquains consists of a fixed number of stressed syllables, following the pattern 1,2,34,1.
Variations of Crapsey Cinquain
Reverse Cinquain: This form consists of one 5-line stanza in a syllabic pattern of two, eight, six, four, two.
Mirror Cinquain: This form has two 5-line stanzas consisting of a cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain.
Butterfly Cinquain: This is a nine-line syllabic form with the pattern two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two.
Crown Cinquain: This is a sequence of five cinquain stanzas functioning to construct one larger poem.
Garland Cinquain: This is a series of six cinquains in which the last one is formed of lines from the preceding five, typically line one from stanza one, line two from stanza two, and so on.
The didactic cinquain is closely related to the Crapsey cinquain and is an informal kind of cinquain which is widely taught in elementary schools.
Writing Cinquain Poems
To write cinquain poems, you need to master the requirements for each line. Follow the steps below to write your own cinquain poem:
First Line: Decide on one word title which is a noun. (1)
Second Line: Add two words, describing your title. These would be adjectives. (2)
Third Line: Select three words that tell you something that the title can do (verb). (3)
Fourth Line: Add a four word phrase that describes a feeling about your title. (4)
Fifth Line: Think of one word that refers back to your title (synonym). (1)
Examples of Famous Cinquain Poems
Winding, swimming, moving
An eel is strange.
–Eel by Miki
Flying, sitting, crying
A dove is free.
-Dove by Min