Poetic Form: Cinquain

Source

Three Stanzas of Five Lines of Love


Foolishly I write poetry for you

Careless lover, whose attention ever

Drifts to others’ charms and ignores those few

I offer, always in search of ‘different’ and ‘new.’

Someday never seemed so much like never.


In my anger I write you angry verse

Yet as I do I know I am cloying

My desire for you has become perverse

My poems I hoped you would be enjoying

It seems you only find annoying


For you the princess of my dreams

Happily I write affectionate rhymes

Though certainly I am no sort of prince

And I abandoned any hope for us long since

The moments you spare me are my favorite times

Source


A.K.A. quintain or quintet, the cinquain is composed of five lines, and can stand alone as a poem or act as a stanza or stanzas within a larger work. This form originated, as far as experts can tell, in French medieval poetry.

Cinquains in English often follow a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab or abccb. Since it is a rhyming form, we don’t want any lines that end in ‘orange’, and it will go easier for us if we choose words that are easy to rhyme. You can use a rhyming dictionary if you like. Anything you use to help you write poetry I think is a good thing. I like to use a regular dictionary and perhaps a thesaurus.

To write in a strict rhyming form, sometimes it’s helpful to lay the form out in advance like this:

  • A
  • B
  • A
  • A
  • B

Then you won’t forget what rhyme you’re on. It works like this:


A Waiting for you is such torture, dear,
B Alone in the bed, laying in the dark.
A Where have you gone? I wish you were here.
A I am so much happier when you are near.
B Hark! Outside! I think I heard you bark.

There we have it: a lovely poem of pathetic loneliness for a canine companion in five lines. Like any poem it is nice when the last line turns the rest of the poem. People like surprises.

Don’t forget to delete the rhyme scheme letters before you submit the poem for publication. Oh, how embarrassing that would be.

Since this is an old form, it might be nice when you use it to consider factors like meter, number of syllables per line and the syllable stresses – not necessarily that you will use them in the strict way they were originally used, but that you will be aware of them and use them to enhance the rhythm and ‘music’ of your poetry.

The cinquain at the beginning of this article is a multi-stanza version of the form. In it I change up the rhyme scheme in every stanza, but for a little extra exercise, one could stick with the same rhyme scheme throughout. I think I have the hang of it now. Now maybe I’ll try a few more. They’re kind of addicting. :)

Cinquain for HP

I wrote a lovely cinquain for HP
As alone in my room I sat
Composing verses happily
Until I suddenly realized that
The only one who’ll read it is the cat

Well, it’s not exactly true
That my audience is just the cat
I mean, you read it, didn’t you?
And the cat is very discerning, too.
At least I can be thankful for that

Happy writing. :)


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Comments 17 comments

PARASMART profile image

PARASMART 5 years ago from CALIFORNIA

So neat. You wrote a really good article and it helped me a lot too. Out of 10 best you got a 10. THANKS, I might be bias being a writer myself.

Brewster, Author of "The Everlasting Gospel" You might enjoy reading it. You can preview it for free. Thanks!

Now I am going to compose a Cinquian of some of my poems. -Brewster


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, Parasmart! I'll check it out!


vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 5 years ago from Bangalore

Thanks for sharing about rhyming.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Thank you for reading.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

When i read the title I was wondering what Cinquain is. But then you explained it very nicely.

I'm enjoying your poems

and there is nothing annoying


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, Vinaya! Not even a little annoying? Splendid.


robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

I really had no idea that there were so many different poetic forms. You explain so well and your examples are so clear and good-- thanks Tom this was great


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much, Robie. I feel that poetry is such a good vehicle that people can use to expand their ideas. Thanks again.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Interesting Tom. I wrote several poems using this form, but didn't realize it had a name. Now i learned a new name, 'cinquian' Thank you...


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Glad to learn another poetic form. Lovely examples.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Thank you, Ruby. Please send me a link so I can read one or more of your cinquains!

Thank you, Anginwu! I am learning so much by participating in HPs arts event, too.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

Thank you Tom so much for sharing this interesting gem .

I bookmark and vote up.

Take care and have a wonderful day.

Eiddwen.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks so much, Eiddwen! :)


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

http://alwaysexploring.hubpages.com/hub/A-poem-Ove...

This is the one i was thinking of Tom. You have already read it..Cheers


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Oh, yes! Thanks, Ruby! I like that one.


Hound Cat profile image

Hound Cat 5 years ago from Los Angeles area of Southern California USA

You wrote a great reference with excellent examples of types of poetry. I will have to try some of your superb hints.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States Author

Poetic forms are fun to play with, no question. Better than crossword puzzles!

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