Cinquain

In poetry, a cinquain or quintain is a five line stanza, varied in rhyme and line, usually of the form ababb. An example of cinquain is the following stanza from Percy Bysshe Shelley's "To a Skylark":

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

Cinquain also has a more specialised meaning. Under the influence of Japanese poetry, the American poet Adelaide Crapsy developed a poetic form she called "a cinquain". This is a short, unrhymed poem of twenty-two syllables, five lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables, respectively.

Her cinquains were published posthumously in 1915 in her The Complete Poems. Cinquains became better known through the work of Carl Sandburg (Cornhuskers, 1918) and Louis Utermeyer (Modern American Poetry, 1919). Here is one Crapsy cinquain ("Triad"):

These be
Three silent things:
The falling snow... the hour
Before the dawn... the mouth of one
Just dead.

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