The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Examples of cinquains can be found in many European languages, and the origin of the form dates back to medieval French poetry.
The most common cinquains in English follow a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab or abccb.I'll admit that the first part of this definition was unfamiliar to me. It was only this second part that I recognized.
Adelaide Crapsey, an early twentieth-century poet, used a form of 22 syllables distributed among the five lines in a 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 pattern, respectively. Her poems share a similarity with the Japanese tanka, another five-line form, in their focus on imagery and the natural world.This is the form that is taught in schools alongside haiku and diamante, though I'm not fond of the didactic approach generally taken, which consists of listing words related to a topic (adjectives, action verbs, etc.) .
If you are looking for some guidance, Kenn Nesbitt has a nice page on how to write a cinquain.
For a bit of inspiration, here's an example by Adelaide Crapsey.
From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind…look up, and scent
I hope you'll join me this week in writing a cinquain (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.