Thursday, 23 April 2009

Cinquain Quintain Quintet

The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines. Cinquains can be found in many European languages; originating from medieval French poetry. (Often, my students would align the poems by centering them. They look interesting.)

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

Read as many poems as you can. It helps set the tone.

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.

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