Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday Poetry Stretch - Cinquain defines the cinquain in this fashion.
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.


Look up…
From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind…look up, and scent
The snow!

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.


  1. To Begin

    The start
    of any poem
    is that boost of new light
    shining on an old idea:
    new moon.

    ©2013 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. Troublesome

    comes in doubles,
    sometimes triples as well,
    a tidal wave of worry--
    oh, hell!

    ©2013 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  3. Fun, Jane! Here's a double cinquain:


    And charging forth
    With jousting lance and shield,
    Like a lost knight of Atlantis,
    For fight
    And a bite of poor sea urchin,
    What strange crustacean king
    Must have dubbed you
    Sir Claw?

    ©2013 Steven Withrow all rights reserved

  4. November

    lifting their arms,
    legs, shoulders, heads, elbows,
    modern dancers tearing the gray
    cloth sky.

    —Kate Coombs, 2013
    all rights reserved

  5. Try to
    capture Autumn's
    color with paint, collage.
    Today's art will be forgotten,
    not lost.

    Dark sky
    Children's laughter
    Brilliant colors of fall
    Collect beauty strewn by the trees
    New art

    color against
    heavy dark purple skies:
    red, gold, green, orange, yellow, brown.
    Rain begins.

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

    These are in my Poetry Friday post:

    Spackled skyline
    Surges toward me as I
    Smile in my attempt to kiss the

    (c) Charles Waters 2013 all rights reserved.