A cinquain is written using a pattern. "Cinq" [pronounced SINK] is French for the number 5. This type of poem only has five lines. Each line follows a specific pattern.
There are many ways to write this type of poetry. The traditional cinquain, as developed by Adelaide Crapsey, has five lines and a strict structure based on syllable count.
|Line 1: ||Two syllables|
|Line 2:|| Four syllables|
|Line 3:|| Six syllables|
|Line 4:|| Eight syllables|
|Line 5: ||Two syllables|
Keep thou (two syllables)
Thy tearless watch (four syllables)
All night but when blue-dawn (six syllables)
Breathes on the silver moon, then weep! (eight syllables)
Then weep! (two syllables)
Other methods have emerged but are not, strictly speaking, cinquains. They are five line poems with a preset structure.
|Line1:|| One word|
|Line2:|| Two words|
|Line 3:|| Three words|
|Line 4:|| Four words|
|Line 5:|| One word|
|Line1:|| A noun|
|Line2: ||Two adjectives|
|Line 3:|| Three -ing words|
|Line 4:|| A phrase|
|Line 5:|| Another word for the noun|
More Examples of Traditional Cinquains
Listen . . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
- all examples by Adelaide Crapsey
If day on day
Follows and weary year
On year . . . and ever days and years . . .
American poet Adelaide Crapsey created the cinquain[sing-KANE]-based on the Japanese haiku- around the turn of the twentieth century.
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