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Cinquain Poem

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


    November Night

    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

    November Night

    Listen . . .
    With faint dry sound,
    Like steps of passing ghosts,
    The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
    And fall.


    Well and
    If day on day
    Follows and weary year
    On year . . . and ever days and years . . .
- all examples by Adelaide Crapsey

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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