Writing a Cinquain poem
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.
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.
Its feathers fall
To reveal its bare skin
That some will surely charm and grace
Some Cinquain Variants
Other Cinquain Forms
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.
A form that has has the cinquain's syllables per line rearranged in 2,8,6,4,2
A 9 line Cinquain that has its syllables in 2,4,6,8,2,8,6,4,2
A sequence of 5 Cinquains linked to form a larger poem
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.
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.
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.
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?
The Yellow Rose
A bloom that grows
To touch so many hearts
With branches grasping waiting fronds
That stands upright
With strength that will endure
Unwatered soil that will so stress
That open wide
To enfold and discern
The other leaves with greater need
Its petals open
Sense space that others need
To nurture roots or else to grow
Of yellow bloom
That opens up
To freely add new life
To other roses that will plead
Have poetry fun with the Cinquain!
All poems are original works by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin, All Rights Reserved.
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