Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Singular Cinquain

I often write more words than ever show up in a finished poem. I write lots of extra so that I can carve away at them until I have only the ones that I need left. So when I discovered the "Cinquain" form I was almost afraid to try it. Some of my poems go on for pages, but with the cinquain you have to squeese your whole idea into 22 syllables.

What is a cinquain. A cinquain is a five-line poem that describes a person, place, or thing. Cinquains use an incremental syllable count in the first four lines,

two in the first,
four in the second,
six in the third, and
eight in the fourth, before returning to
two syllables on the last line.

The American poet Adelaide Crapsey was inspired by Japanese haiku to invent the cinquain in the early 1900's as a way to to express her brief thoughts and statements. Her first book titled "Verses" was published in 1915 shortly after her death from tuberculosis.

Here are two of Adelaide Crapsey's poems . . .


I know
Not these my hands
And yet I think there was
A woman like me once had hands
Like these.

November Night

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

Crapsey always named her cinquains, in essence giving her a sixth line in which to convey her message.  Cinquains typically do not rhyme.

Here is an interesting page: A cheat sheet for writing a cinquain.

Here are some of my cinquains

Earth and Heaven Touch

Pale light of dawn
Red sky on the white Nile
Where earth and heaven touch the face
Of God

Here I sum up Hamlet's soliloquy in a cinquain.
Hamlet's Dilemma

To be
Or not to be
Is that still the question
Being noble expose the lie
Or live

Charcoal Fired Oaken Staves

Old wine barrels
Clever cooper craftsmen
Forged the bands and steamed the staves
With pride


Getting smaller
The skirt, the Mart, the Mall
The "Bigger Better Believers"

Here is my first cinquain made using the link above . . .

Chorus in the Treetops

Bird Song
In harmony
Chirping songs to heaven
My joy in spring and summertime
Song Bird

No comments:

Post a Comment