Monday, May 25, 2009

Cinquain - quintain or quintet

The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Examples of cinquains can be found in many European languages, and the origin of the form dates back to medieval French poetry. Often, students align the poems by centering them.

The most common cinquains in English follow a rhyme scheme of ababb, abaab or abccb. For some 16th and 17th-century poets check out: Sir Philip Sidney, George Herbert, Edmund Waller, and John Donne (1572 - 1631). It helps to read, or listen to, the best!

Line 1 - one word for the topic - noun
Line 2 - 2 words to describes your topic -adjective (from Latin: ad - 'toward', + jacere - 'throw')
Line 3 - 3 words that describes the actions relating to your topic -adverb (place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree)
Line 4 - 4 words that describes the feelings relating to your topic - affect
Line 5 - one word that is another noun for your topic - synonym

I used this poetic strategy to teach my gr. 8 writers about grammatical terms. It works well!


Line 1 - two syllables
Line 2 - four syllables
Line 3 - six syllables
Line 4 - eight syllables
Line 5 - two syllables

The Handbook of Poetic Forms suggests:
  • Refrain from being cloyingly sweet
  • build toward a climax
  • put a surprise into your last two lines
  • be concerned with thoughts and images
  • rather than parts of speech.
Here, PoetryDances.ning provides more info on styles. They have a forum where you can workshop your poems! Here is a link to all of Shakespeare's sonnets. You write well by reading other's work!

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