Writing Tip: The Cinquain

Cinquain.jpgThere is much controversy around who really invented the Cinquain –a  short five-line poem with a few distinct patterns. Some believe it to be American poet, Adelaide Crapsey, while others feel other versions of this form predate her discovery. Regardless of who created it, the Cinquain has certainly evolved as most forms of poetry do over time. There are many to experiment with, so see which style suits your writing or try them all if you feel daring enough.

EdmundThe earliest forms of the Cinquain came from sixteen and seventeenth century poets, like Edmund Waller, John Donne and George Herbert. They wrote many cinquains that follow a variety of rhyme schemes: ababb, abaad or abccb.

There are more modern forms of the Cinquan that are use more often today. The most common follows a pattern of syllables:

Line 1: 2 Syllables

Line 2: 8 Syllables

Line 3: 6 Syllables

Line 4: 4 Syllables

Line 5: 2 Syllables


Line 1: One syllable

Line 2: Two syllables

Line 3: Three syllables

Line 4: Four syllables

Line 5: One syllables

A modified version of this form is known as the Butterfly:

Line 1: 2 Syllables

Line 2: 8 Syllables

Line 3: 6 Syllables

Line 4: 4 Syllables

Line 5: 2 Syllables

Line 6: 8 Syllables

Line 7: 6 Syllables

Line 8: 4 Syllables

Line 9: 2 Syllables

Then there are Cinquains that explore some descriptive content within the text:

Line 1: Title

Line 2: Describes your title

Line 3: Describes an action of your title

Line 4: Describes a feeling related to your title

Line 5: Word referring to your title


Line 1: a one-word title, a noun that tells what the poem is about

Line 2: two adjectives describing the title

Line 3: three (-ing) action verbs

Line 4: a related phrase

Line 5: a synonym for the title

The Cinquain can be challenging, but fun to play around with. You can create micro-poetry or a narrative poem using this form. So go ahead and dabble in the many varieties of a Cinquain and share your poems with us.

Donna J SandersWritten by: Donna J. Sanders

Donna is a freelance writer and blogger in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of Ataraxia, Cardboard Signs, and Devour Me.

Find out more about her here:





Sign up for our emails on writing tips at:



Photo Credit: © Donna J. Sanders

Categories: Writing Tips

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. I’ve never heard of it before, that’s certainly sweat.
    The lack of a difficult meter and rhyming couplets make it especially appealing.
    I’ll post a try later and reference here 🙂



  1. Writing Tip: The Cinquain – TheRaven6825
  2. Poetry – In truth! Your smile… | Reality Through Fiction
  3. Poetry – Grandfather clock | Reality Through Fiction

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: