The cinquain in its simplest form, is merely a poem with a five-line stanza. Although Adelaide Crapsey created the modern form, English poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth century set the stage and became the inspiration for Miss Crapsey’s poetic design. The early cinquain was most frequently written with a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab, or abccb. The poems were generally longer than a single stanza.
For example, take a look at George Herbert’s…
Love built a stately house, where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say
That her fine cobwebs did support the frame,
Whereas they were supported by the same;
But Wisdom quickly swept them all away.
The Pleasure came, who, liking not the fashion,
Began to make balconies, terraces,
Till she had weakened all by alteration;
But reverend laws, and many a proclomation
Reforméd all at length with menaces.
Then entered Sin, and with that sycamore
Whose leaves first sheltered man from drought and dew,
Working and winding slily evermore,
The inward walls and summers cleft and tore;
But Grace shored these, and cut that as it grew.
Then Sin combined with death in a firm band,
To raze the building to the very floor;
Which they effected,–none could them withstand;
But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand,
And built a braver palace than before.
—by George Herbert
Try It: Early Cinquain Style
Following the ababb, abaab, or abccb rhyme scheme, create a cinquain poem similar to the early styles of the sixteenth and seventeenth century poets. Think of what inspires you, maybe a greater purpose, or something that will exist long after us. Let your poem speak to the heart, bring joy, or give hope. A timeless combination.
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Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a cinquain from Maureen we enjoyed:
‘Goodnight Moon’ once
You urged fingers to lips
And whispered two words in my ear:
Photo by James Baker. Creative Commons via Flickr.
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How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland
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Rick Maxson says
I loved your Goodnight Moon cinquain, Maureen.
Our daughter who tickled us pink
Born that fair Spring day,
She did make us wink,
but better still has made us think:
How shall we know The Way?
Yes, the fairest one – how, she to train?
how she to teach and guide?
for she seemed to need all to be made plain.
But, let us not her needs disdain,
For she shall in due time teach us to abide.
Why, the teachers are we,
Doesn’t she know?
She does not seem to see
That her place is to listen to me.
Until, she did us show.
Did she not revere His Word,
By spending the time due its wage?
For it was she alone who saw the worth
of daily making sure she heard
To cherish every chapter, line, and page.
Yes, with constancy and care
she read and listened everyday,
Making us more and more aware
Of how we fail to take heed and care,
While we willfully go our own way.
I dedicate this poem to my daughter who has schooled each member of our family in many varied and meaningful ways. She is our scholar par excellence, our go-to reference gal in all things biblical, historical, and trivial – our “Always Unique Totally Interesting Sometimes Mysterious” child.
Christina Hubbard says
Oh, I love your cinquain, Katie. I have a child with a similar bent and sometimes I wonder. Your words give me hope and delight in the gift she brings you now.
Thank you, Christina!
I’m glad this brought you hope:)
Christina Hubbard says
I tried to combine the Crapsey Cinquain and the early while fighting a cold. Fun and healing. Thanks for the prompts! They’re such a great challenge: http://creativeandfree.com/the-cold-remedy/
Like your Cold Remedy Cinquain!
Also, this statement: “Writing poems helps me to pay attention to what I truly need.”
Glad you’re taking care of yourself:)
Josh Duncan says
This was a great prompt. Really got my wheels turning. I hope you all find this enjoyable or helpful in some way:
What’s Meant to Grow
Reading through this catalogue of hurt,
as one imagines this life could be called,
we see a brutish kingdom is installed,
and seeds of human kindness lie inert,
while roads yielding relief have all been walled.
Grayness presses color from the sky,
and no one marches mighty from the hills.
Does power only kiss the hand that kills?
Is the only choice of innocence to die?
Where is the one who shatters wicked wills?
Look deep behind the sight-obscuring cloud;
Listen to the whispering of stones.
Take courage in the wisdom stored in bones,
who tell us that the fallen-fated proud
will break beneath the weighing of our moans.
The empires all the hateful cruelly built,
the sufferings the self-exalted cause,
will turn their coiling necks and hinging jaws
to crush their former masters in their guilt—
An irony deep woven in God’s laws.
Lift up your heart when worlds are tumble down.
Fan to flame this secret you now know.
No evil can destroy what’s meant to grow
when life and love in flesh accepts the crown.
Embrace our hope and healing as you go.
Thank you for sharing!