10 of the Best Examples of Cinquain Poems

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.

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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.

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