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Writing a Cinquain poem

Updated on February 24, 2014
Adelaide Crapsey
Adelaide Crapsey | Source

Poetry lovers might fall in love with the Cinquain, a short form of poetry that is concise and easy to write.

Despite its use of just a few syllables, it is a rich and vibrant poetic form. It's relatively short length makes it a favorite among poets, who enjoy the challenge of embracing their thoughts in a few words

It's a good addition on photos as well.


Origins of the Cinquain

The Cinquain form was founded by a school teacher, Adelaide Crapsey, who was in search of new poetic forms to all ow the girls at the preparatory school where she taught to explore.

It was founded in the spirit of imagists so it is definitely a form rich in imagery.

Based on the Japanese Haiku and Tanka, it relies on images to express the poet's thoughts.
Crapsey's collection of over 30 poems, The Verse, was published after she died in 1914.

Steps to writing the Cinquain

    • The first line is a subject, usually a nouns that captures your thoughts.
    • The next line is a description relating to the subject
    • The third line involves an action done by the subject
    • The fourth stresses the feelings or thoughts the poet wishes to expres
    • The fifth is a synonym of the subject.

The form of the Cinquain

The Cinquain form developed in two stages. It began as a five line poem that had 1,2,3,4 then 1 syllable in each. This is an example the Cinquain in its original form, about the faithfulness of man's best friend.


Best friend.

He wags his tail

With his eyes affixed


The Cinquain then became a 5 line form with 2,4,6,8 and 2 syllables in each line. This poem, expressing beauty as being in the eye of the beholder and beyond skin deep is an example of how the Cinquain developed.

The bird

Its feathers fall

To reveal its bare skin

That some will surely charm and grace


Some Cinquain Variants

Other Cinquain Forms
Mirror Cinquain
A form that involves the writing of the 5 line Cinquain in 2,4,6,8,2 syllables, followed by another in the reverse order.
Reverse Cinquain
A form that has has the cinquain's syllables per line rearranged in 2,8,6,4,2
Butterfly Cinquain
A 9 line Cinquain that has its syllables in 2,4,6,8,2,8,6,4,2
Crown Cinquain
A sequence of 5 Cinquains linked to form a larger poem
Garland Cinquain
A series of six Cinquains with lines formed from the preceding five. Typically, it's line one from Cinquain 1, line 2 from Cinquain 2 and so on.
Here are Cinquain variants to try.

How to write a cinquain

Points to note when writing the Cinquain

Not a form one can take too liberally, there are things to note when writing a Cinquain.


Part of the beauty of the Cinquain is its adherence to form. Any variation is in the types of Cinquain there are.

Syllable groupings

Some poets recommend that the Cinquain be written in groups of two syllables or lambs. The first is unstressed while the second is.


The Cinquain should be about non-complex subjects that concern many. Although they offer nuggets of worldly wisdom, the form is a little too short to embrace concepts like "the complexity of freedom" or "striking a balance with worldliness."

Nouns and verbs

Use simple nouns to address your thoughts on a subject. In the poem on the Yellow Rose I have written below, I have used the rose to address thougts on friendship.
Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Cinquains are more effective when nouns and verbs are used.


The Yellow Rose
The Yellow Rose | Source

Cinquain : Friendship

The yellow rose symbolizes the acceptance, tolerance, and empathy that is needed in friendship. It reminds us of the need to be astute and aware of a friend's need for space. It tells us about the forgiveness and resilience that friendships need.

Trying Cinquain forms

Which Cinquain form would you like to try?

See results

The Yellow Rose

A rose

A bloom that grows

To touch so many hearts

With branches grasping waiting fronds


The stem

That stands upright

With strength that will endure

Unwatered soil that will so stress

It stands.

Its leaves

That open wide

To enfold and discern

The other leaves with greater need

Green base.

The bloom

Its petals open

Sense space that others need

To nurture roots or else to grow

Small strength

The rose

Of yellow bloom

That opens up

To freely add new life

To other roses that will plead

It loves.


Have poetry fun with the Cinquain!

All poems are original works by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin, All Rights Reserved.


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Eddy, look forward to reading your Cinquains! Thanks for sharing!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      wow Michelle a wonderful hub just made for me. I have never heard of this poetry form and cannot wait to try my hand at it. I hope to share my first attempt very soon. This gem my dear friend I vote up, across and share onto my FB page A Brand New Dawn.. Enjoy your day and lots of love from Wales.


    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Harish.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for the comment, Minnetonka Twin. It's a powerful form in that less is more!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Jackie, hope you'll enjoy the choke!

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      5 years ago from New Delhi , India

      A useful and informative hub about cinquain. To say something in such a form in a few words is really a challenge and interesting way of expression. Thanks, Michelle.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      5 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for the interesting hub on Cinquain. I find this form of poetry to be very exhilarating and healing. I believe less is definitely better in this case and very powerful.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      First I have ever heard of this, very interesting and great info! ^

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, WanNess.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, DDE!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, rebecca!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      They're lovely and simple, right, Janet?

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Meldz!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Jhamann!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Audrey!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful mind of thinking here and so much to ponder on about such poems

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      5 years ago from Fountain, CO

      I had forgotten all about these from learning how to write them in school. Very creative!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Susan!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ruchira!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I remember learning about Cinquain but forgot. Thanks for the reminder. These are really pretty. Fun to write!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      5 years ago from Georgia country

      I have already written some Cinquain poems with pupils. It's a very popular form of poetry at school but I didn't know it was founded by a school teacher. Thank you for sharing this interesting hub, the historical background and some beautiful samples of Cinquain poems. Very well done!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Another form of poem! Thanks Michelle. You always give us new ideas in writing.

      Have a great day. :-)

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      5 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you for this great new form to explore I enjoyed your hub very much. Poetry month is coming up soon, I will include some of these different cinquains. Jamie

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      5 years ago from California

      Really nicely done Michelle--I love this form as I do most all shorter forms--and your pieces do it justice!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'd never heard of this form of poetry before. Thank you for introducing it to me. I'll have to try it.

    • Ruchira profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      I loved reading about its origin and honestly this is my first time reading about it :) thanks for the information.

      will give it a try on my blog :)

      sharing this hub across!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very nicely done Michelle. I like that you gave some history and some great examples.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      How to write a Cinquain poem.


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