Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Cinquain

I like to dabble in writing poetry (emphasis on “dabble”). Some forms of poetry have little or no defined form, and others are very structured. One structured poetry form is called the “cinquain.” It’s pretty easy, because you don’t have to rhyme anything. Here are the rules:

1. The first line (and it is also the title) should have two syllables and include the noun that you are writing about.
2. The second line should have four syllables, and be a description of the noun in the first line.
3. The third line should have six syllables, and describe some type of action.
4. The fourth line should have eight syllables, and talk about some feeling or effect.
5. The fifth, and last, line should have two syllables, and be a synonym for (or at least refer back to) the initial noun in the first line.
6. (optional) Most of the time a cinquain is written in iambic meter. Don’t get scared off by this. It just means that the pattern goes ta-dum’ ta-dum’ ta-dum’ throughout (unaccented, accented, unaccented, accented – for example "come LIVE with ME and BE my LOVE.")

Here’s one I did this morning, with a New Mexico theme (remember, the first line is both title and first line of the poem):

(2 syllables) Sheer cliff,
(4 syllables) with scarred-up face,
(6 syllables) scorched red by setting sun,
(8 syllables) your hieroglyphs enchant my mind,
(2 syllables) old bluff.

And here are a couple I did some time ago:

Wee frog
with cold wet skin,
you hopped into my boot!
You think you’re safe inside that house.
Leap, frog!

A pearl,
a tip of white.
It pokes above the gum.
It hurts, you cry, I hug, you nurse.
First tooth!

If you decide to try writing one, be sure to post it in the comments. Come on, give it a try! You can ignore the “iambic” part, if you want, and just concentrate on the syllables and purpose of each line.

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