By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)
What are the best examples of the cinquain in English and American poetry? There is actually more than one way to define what a cinquain actually is, but the broadest definition is that a cinquain is any five-line poem. That’s it: a poem composed of five lines.
But such a broad definition would mean that a limerick – that staple of comic and scurrilous verse – is technically a cinquain, and whilst that may be true in a general sense, we’ve decided to omit limericks from our list of best cinquains in English. For this reason the term ‘quintain’ is better employed for any five-line verse form, with ‘cinquain’ carrying a more specific definition.