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A Short Analysis of Adelaide Crapsey’s ‘November Night’

On one of American literature’s forgotten poets

The American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) is not much remembered now, but she left one mini poetic legacy: the cinquain. The word ‘cinquain’ had existed before her miniature verse innovation, but Crapsey co-opted it to describe the five-line unrhymed form which she used in her finest poetry. Previously, we’ve discussed one of Crapsey’s finest examples in this poetic form, but we thought it worth sharing another of her cinquains, which subtly links autumn with death:

November Night

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

The tongue and teeth cannot help slightly Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Adelaide Crapsey’s ‘Amaze’

A reading of a short modern poem

The American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) is not much remembered now, but she left one mini poetic legacy: a new form she called the cinquain. ‘Cinquain’ had existed as a word before her miniature verse innovation, but Crapsey co-opted it to describe the five-line unrhymed form which she used in her finest poetry. ‘Amaze’, which is reproduced below, is an example of Crapsey’s cinquains – and perhaps her most famous poem.

Amaze

I know
Not these my hands
And yet I think there was
A woman like me once had hands
Like these.

Although this looks like free verse – the vers libre that T. E. Hulme and Ezra Pound, over in London, were beginning to experiment with at around the same time – Crapsey’s cinquains do actually follow a strict pattern. The first line must contain one beat, the second two beats, the third three, the fourth four – with the fifth and final line reverting to a single beat. The cinquain thus offers a steady progression, followed by a sudden retreat. Read the rest of this entry