A cinquain is a five-line poem that was invented by Adelaide Crapsey. She was an American poet who took her inspiration from Japanese haiku and tanka. A collection of poems, titled Verse, was published in 1915 and included 28 cinquains.
Cinquains are particularly vivid in their imagery and are meant to convey a certain mood or emotion.
Because Adelaide Crapsey created the cinquain as a poetic form, the best example of a cinquain is a poem that she wrote titled "Snow" (source: http://www.cinquain.org)
From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind…look up, and scent
Originally, Crapsey created the form for the American cinquain with five lines.
Following the invention of this form, Crapsey made changes to the form and included a certain number of syllables per line.
Even though iambic feet were typically used in these cinquains, it was not a requirement of the structure.
There have been many variations of the cinquain since its invention. To fully understand Cinquains, here are descriptions of two of the more popular forms along with examples.
This is a very popular form of the cinquain because of its simplicity. Instead of incorporating stress and syllables, it uses words.
Here are some examples of this form of cinquain:
Dripping, slurping, smacking
So messy to eat
Falling, dancing, drifting
Covering everything it touches
Imposing, protecting, watching
Symbolizes wealth and power
This form is just slightly different from the first form in that the fourth line is a complete sentence and may have more than four words.
Here are a few examples of this form of cinquain:
Flipping, twirling, jumping
They make me laugh
Shining, burning, exploding
It gives life to everything
Waddling, swimming, eating
They are playing in the water
Now that you have read some examples of cinquain, you see how easy it is to write your own.