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Main » Articles » ISSUE #2


   Have you ever heard of cinquain? If not, here’s
the example of one by Adalaide Crapsey:


With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees

And fall.

   How do you find it? Would you like to write your own

   If you got interested and want to know more about it
you could go to Wikipedia and find this:

   "The cinquain form was invented by the American poet
Adelaide Crapsey , inspired by Japanese haiku and tanka. In her 1915 collection
titled Verse, published one year after her death, Crapsey included
28 cinquains.”

  As for me, I’ve never heard of Adelaide
Crapsey.Neither have I heard of cinquain before.But of course I have heard
about tanka and haiku.To me this Japanese form of poetry has always been
unusual, yet appealing.

Here’s some tanka for you to read:

Though the small pond
Is black from
The sunken pine needles,
Really it is lighted
By the floating water lilies.

Fuyô Nakano
Passing the time inside,
I watch a white cloud;
Then wishing to touch it,
I sudden realized how possible
That might be if snow falls today.

Matsuru Omine

   So I decided to meet a lack of knowledge and that’s
what I’ve found out:

   In spite of the fact that it sounds French-like, cinquain
is an American poetry form that can be traced back to Adelaide Crapsey
(September 9, 1878 – October 8, 1914). Crapsey, influenced by Japanese haiku,
developed this poetic system which she then called cinquain and used
it to express brief thoughts and statements.

   One can find all her cinquains in
"Verse", which was   published after her death in
1915 The most famous of the few Crapsy cinquains is "Triad": 

These be

Three silent things

The falling snow... the hour

Before the dawn...the mouth of one

Just dead.

   Cinquains, though
they have never become very popular, have always attracted a number of poets
who are still developing the form. . Some other poets who developed the
form were Carl Sandburg and Louis Utermeyer. While the form does not have the
extensive popularity of haiku, it is often taught in public schools to children
because of the form’s brief nature.

The traditional cinquain is based on  a syllable count
line 1 - 2 syllables

line 2 - 4 syllables

line 3 - 6 syllables

line 4 - 8 syllables

line 5 - 2 syllables 
The modern cinquain is based on a word count of
words of a certain type.
line 1 - 1 word (noun) a
title or name of the subject
line 2 - 2 words (adjectives) describing the title
line 3 - 3  words (verbs) to describe an action related to the title
line 4 - 4 words to describe a feeling about the title, a complete sentence
line 5 - 1 word referring back to the title of the poem  

  Most cinquain poems consist of a single, 22 syllable stanza (a fixed number of verse lines arranged in a definite metrical pattern, forming a unit of a poem), but they can be combined into longer works. A cinquain consists of five lines. The first line has two syllables, the second line has four syllables, the third line has six syllables and the fourth line has eight syllables, the final line has two syllables.The line length is the only firm rule, but there are other guidelines that people have tried to impose from time to time.

Some more cinquain examples:

Tucson Rain

The smell
Everyone moves
To the window to look
Work stops and people start talking
Rain came


Lived once,

Long ago, but

Only dust and


(by Cindy Barden) 

If you’d like to
try and write a cinquain you could use this hint
Line 1: Title Noun

Line 2: Description

Line 3: Action

Line 4: Feeling or

Line 5: Synonym of the
initial noun.

Before you try
you should know that a certain number of cinquain variations exsits

syllabic verse of the pattern 2 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 2

mirror cinquain: a sequence
of a standard cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain

syllabic verse of the pattern 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 2 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 2

crown cinquain: a sequence
of five cinquains

 a sequence
of six cinquains in which the final cinquain is composed of lines from the
preceding five (generally L1 from S1, L2 from S2, L3 from S3, etc...)

Would you like
to give it a try?
I asked my
students to give it a go and they did. Here you can read some cinquains created
by them on the topic...
Can you guess the topic?

from lovely friend
with love and tenderness

we are here
just you and me

by Liza Lushnikova


fiery, cold
beats, thrilling, stops
Love lives in it.
The engine! 

sweet, flavored
melt, joy, harm
All kids love it!

bright, colourful
blossoms, blooms, fades
We admire its beauty.
by Mary Myshkina

Category: ISSUE #2 | Added by: Guzeliya (24-Feb-2011) | Author: Sergey Papushin E
Views: 729 | Comments: 3 | Tags: cinquain, syllable, Adalaide Crapsey, Poetry | Rating: 5.0/1
Total comments: 3
It's interesting article. Thanks. I've never heard about cinquains. Maybe this article will help me, if I want to write my own traditional or modern cinquains. :)

Thanks for the article! I don't think. I've ever try to write something like this. But it's a pleasure to read cinquains.

It'll take quite a while to hack my path through this art so I don't know when I'll make time to write a piece of my own?! But surely I'll try one day! Thanks

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