How to Write a Cinquain Poem

A cinquain (sin-kane) is a five-line poem. The American Cinquain invented by poet Adelaide Crapsey is a short, poetic form consisting of 22 syllables written in five lines with a 2/4/6/8/2 syllable count. Cinquains usually describe something with vivid imagery and are meant to convey a specific mood or emotion.

Here are the rules:

  1. Line one usually contains a noun, action, or statement and has two syllables.
  2. Line two describes the noun and has four syllables.
  3. Line three shows action and has six syllables.
  4. Line four conveys feeling and has eight syllables. 
  5. Line five concludes the poem with two syllables.

Example #1   

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

Example #2

Look up…From bleakening hills
Blows down the light, first breath
Of wintry wind…look up, and scent
The snow!
—Adelaide Crapsey

Example #3

Listen...With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.
—Adelaide Crapsey