The Cinquain is a five line poem invented by American poet Adelaid Crapsey. She took her inspiration from Japanese haiku and tanka. She published 28 Cinquains titled Verse in 1915.
Poetry has always held a fascination for me. From the earliest age I can remember, couldn’t wait to find a new poem to read…even if I didn’t understand what it meant. Wrote a poem at age 6 and my dear mother had it published in the local newspaper. Something about springtime and birds as I recall.
Today, with more sand in the bottom of the hourglass than at the top, I’ve come to understand that I don’t have to be an accredited poet, determined by the size of the appreciative audience, but allow poetry to happen. “Breathe in-experience, breathe out- poetry” Muriel Rukeyser.
Poetry is word painting and sometimes the poetic brush moves swiftly across the canvas, as if pre-assembled. Other times, genuine thought of theme and careful wordsmithing to convey the topic are required. Either way can result in a target center outcome or a shot above the reader’s head. Poetry flung out in rapid fire exchange can bring out some beautiful “word bounce” and when the laughter has found a brief recess, the pirates of prose often wonder how those rhymes fell into place.
The Cinquain offered an architectural framework for those who wanted to convey their thoughts in a succinct form, a way to avoid the calamity of extrapolative elements that too often spoil the topic. I chose the Didactic Cinquain because of its simplicity, and better yet, the words don’t have to rhyme.
The outline for writing a Cinquain is simple:
First Line…one word…the title
Second Line…two words…adjectives to describe the title
Third Line…three words…subject of the poem or action
Fourth Line…four words…emotions about the subject, individual words or a phrase
Fifth Line…one word…synonym of the title or similar to it
Writing this piece was all about invitation. Present a platform to the reader in which they have an opportunity, a forum to expel their thoughts, and then drink in the words…the insights of others.
For those unfamiliar with the Cinquain I offer a couple of samples:
Seek to find
Others of like kind
Odd looking features
The frog is near
Of course the topics are limitless and anything can happen with an eleven word structure. From tragedy to comedy, esoteric to academic, the five liner can add punch to your prose.
There you have it. Your Cinquain Craft awaits. Climb into the cockpit, grasp the controls and fly us with your thoughts. Your passengers are ready for take off.
“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations”. John F. Kennedy