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Beautiful Cinquains & How To Write Them

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Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:19 am
Lumi says...

Hello, Internet.

Today, you're going to learn of a poetic style you've probably never heard of, and that's perfectly fine. Like many poetic forms, the cinquain is an elusive beauty that, once mastered, is highly appreciated by any poet who can recognize the subtle method. Despite its lack of fame, cinquains are quite easy to write. Cinquains are constructed of five (cin) lines, and describe a specific object of admiration or focus. When writing cinquains, you must follow two rules.

Rule #1: Cinquains Must Fit a Syllabic Pattern.

What's the pattern? Glad you asked! Follow this format:

Line 1 has two syllables.
Line 2 has four syllables.
Line 3 has six syllables.
Line 4 has eight syllables.
Line 5 has two syllables.

Rule #2: Lines of a cinquain cannot be filled by just any words. Each line has specific criteria to meet, which is where the tricky part comes in.

What's this pattern? Again, glad you asked. Follow this format:

Line 1 consists of a single noun consisting of two syllables (i.e. ally).
Line 2 consists of two adjectives.
Line 3 consists of three participles, or "-ing words".
Line 4 consists of a phrase--completely free for your choosing.
Line 5 consists of a single, two-syllable "synonym" for the noun in line #1. (i.e. partner)

Finally, take an example of a cinquain.

protective, true,
fighting, struggling, grieving;
these are the men I idolize--

You may be thinking, "Oh, Lumi, that's a cool standalone poem you have there. I guess all cinquains are standalone." But you'd be wrong! If you're a free-verse poet, like myself, you'll find that this smooth jam is easy to fit into your style, bringing specific focus to a single concept that otherwise may be overlooked by the reader. If you can master this technique and incorporate it into your writing, you'll be one step closer to mastering your craft.

Until next poem,

I am a forest fire and an ocean, and I will burn you just as much
as I will drown everything you have inside.
-Shinji Moon

I am the property of Rydia, please return me to her ship.

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Thu May 05, 2016 2:32 pm
Holysocks says...

I love this.
I hope it's a good joke because otherwise I'll have got it for nothing...

WARNING: Do not take grammar advice from me... EVER.

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Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:48 pm
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alliyah says...

@Lumi does an excellent job explaining one form of Cinquains that's out there, but there are actually different schools of thought for what goes in those specific lines. In it's most basic form a Cinquain is a poem that has five lines, most often its syllable count is always the same (2, 4, 6, 8, 2) modeled after Adelaide Crapsey's poetry the originator of the American Cinquain style. The content within that syllabic form can take different forms depending on the style of Cinquain you're using. Shadow Poetry provides more history on Cinquains if you're interested.

Here's another example of a form Cinquains can take:

Line 1 is a single Noun or Description of Title (can be modified with "the" or "these" etc.) (2 syllables)
Line 2 is a further Description of Line 1 or Title (4 syllables)
Line 3 is an Action (6 syllables)
Line 4 is a Feeling or Effect (8 syllables)
Line 5 is a Synonym of Line 1 or Synonym of Title (2 syllables)

Within that structure one can actually be really playful with how you structure the poem, as long as you're staying within the syllable and content pattern.

Here is one of Adelaide Crapsey's Cinquains, notice how she begins with "how frail" which isn't a noun at all, but is a description of the title word.

Seen on a Night in November

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs,
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.

poem source: Poetry Foundation
maybe i make up colors for poetic cadence, but i don't think i can ever love someone who doesn't understand that teal is a different color than dark cyan

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Sat May 16, 2020 6:22 pm
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Hkumar says...

This was really helpful!
I only put my signature on big cheques.

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138 Reviews

Gender: Male
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Tue May 19, 2020 9:11 am
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Hkumar says...

trapped in their houses,
fearing the invisible being
I only put my signature on big cheques.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
— Mark Twain