Aug 6, 2009


When I first decided on the cinquain for this week’s Passion For Poetry, I thought I’d be getting off easy. Five lines . . . just two more than a haiku, how easy is that? But even the haiku turned out to be more complicated than I realized it was - it’s not just about the right number of syllables.

The invention of the cinquain is credited to the American Poet, Adelaide Crapsey, who was inspired to create it after reading A Hundred Verses From Old Japan, a translation of haiku. The form is little known outside the hardcore poet world and consists of twenty-two syllables set in a single, unrhymed, five line stanza in the following format:

Line 1: Two syllables
Line 2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables

Other accepted formats of the cinquain are:

Line 1: 1 word title (noun)
Line 2: 2 descriptive words (adjectives)
Line 3: 3 words that express action
Line 4: 4 words that express feeling
Line 5: 1 word (synonym or reference to title in line 1)


Line 1: One word
Line 2: Two words
Line 3: Three words
Line 4: Four words
Line 5: One word

And if you really want to do it right, you need to combine all three:

Line 1: One, two syllable word, preferably a noun
Line 2: Two words, total of four syllables, preferably adjectives
Line 3: Three words, total of six syllables, expressing action
Line 4: Four words, total of eight syllables, expressing a feeling
Line 5: One word, two syllables, referencing back to the first word

And now, my example, such as it is. :-)

darkly shining
perfumed breezes wafting
anticipation fills me up . . .

And this one is by Adelaide Crapsey:

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

Now, go thou and do thee likewise! :-)

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