How to write a Cinquain Poem

What is a Cinquain Poem 

 A Cinquain poem is a classic poetic form that uses a five-line pattern. This poetic form is inspired by the Japanese Haiku and Tanka poetic form. This form was introduced to English literature by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey about 100 years ago. Her 1915 collection titled Verse contained 28 cinquains.

Crapsey paid strict focus to features like the syllabic pattern, stress pattern and meter in her poetry. Her cinquains follow an accentual stress pattern of 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 1and a syllabic pattern of 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 2. She also used iamb as the meter in many of the poems. Given below is one of the 28 cinquains written by Crapsey. You cab observe the above-mentioned features in this cinquain. (The block letters indicate the stress and the slashes indicate the syllable division.)

These / BE      

Three / SI / lent / THINGS:   

The / FALL / ing / SNOW …/ the / HOUR  

Be / FORE / the / DAWN / … / the / MOUTH / of / ONE   

Just / DEAD.

Examples of Cinquain Poems

Given below are some examples of cinquain poems that have been created according to the above specifications.

Baseball

Bat cracks against

The pitch, sending it out

Over the back fence, I did it!

Homerun

(by Cindy Barden)

 

Listen…

With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

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

And fall.

(by Adelaide Crapsey)How to write a Cinquain Poem

What is a Didactic Cinquain

A didactic cinquain is closely related to the Crapsey cinquain. This is a popular form of informal cinquains widely taught in elementary school. The expressive simplicity of this form has made it popular among older poems as well. This type of cinquain pays more attention to the word count, not stresses or syllables. Given below is the structure of this kind of poem.

Line1: One word

Line2: Two words

Line 3: Three words

Line 4: Four words

Line 5: One word

Dinosaurs

Lived once,

Long ago, but

Only dust and dreams

Remain

(by Cindy Barden)

This is sometimes more simplified for children by indicating the grammatical categories of each line.

Line1: A noun

Line2: Two adjectives

Line 3: Three -ing words (gerunds)

Line 4: A phrase of four words

Line 5: A word that describes the noun

Mules

Stubborn, unmoving

Braying, kicking, resisting

Not wanting to listen

People

(by Cindy Barden) 

How to write a Cinquain Poem 

Now that you know all about the rules of a cinquain poem, you can write your own cinquain easily. You can either create it based on the word count or syllable pattern. You can use the following guidelines below to create your own cinquain.

  • First choose a subject or a topic.
  • Then brainstorm ideas about your topic. You can think about the appearance, qualities, effects, etc. of the subject. Find at least three or four ideas.
  • If you are writing a didactic cinquain, arrange the words according to the word count. If not, arrange the words according to the syllable pattern 2,4,6,8,2. Count the syllables on your fingers to make sure that you have used the correct pattern.

 

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