Poetry – Write a Cinquain

The American poet Adelaide Crapsey invented the modern form of poetry known as American Cinquain, pronounced (sin-cane), inspired by Japanese haiku and tanka. It creates a word picture and mood. Cinquains do not rhyme.

A cinquain is a five line poem. It has very strict rules about the number of syllables in each line.


Line 1 (2 syllables) States the poem’s subject or topic (usually a noun)

Line 2 (4 syllables) Describes the subject with 2 words (noun + adjective or 2 adjectives)

Line 3 (6 syllables) Expresses the subject’s action with 3 words (often 3 verbs)

Line 4 (8 syllables) Expresses an emotion or feeling about the subject

Line 5 (2 syllables) Restates the subject with another single word, reflecting what you’ve already said. (usually a noun)

Try this site if you want help counting the syllables for use in your poem.

Now it’s your turn to practice. Look at an artwork, or image, and write what you see, feel, and know about it. You may choose from one of the following artworks or images about the Middle Ages, or find one of your own.


Compose a cinquain, and post it in the comments section below for your homework. Include your name, class, and table number in your post. Table points awarded for everyone who posts, with bonus points awarded to tables where everyone in the group posts.


Here are some examples:

Bravery, free
Fighting, loving, yelling
One of the bravest men ever

The king
Powerful, rich
Ruling powerful kingdoms
Everyone wants to please him

Here’s fun one from Antonia:

Faithful, loving
Serene, playful, purring
Affectionate, loyal best friend

Be prepared to read your poem out loud in your next English class. BE your poem. Be like the castle, king, knight, or peasant that you write about. Does your poem capture the mood and paint a mental picture in our minds?

Remember the two components of a poem that you are trying for:

  1. Structure/Organization – Does my poem follow the rules?
  2. Mood/Emotion – Does my poem create a mood and evoke an emotion? Does it paint a picture in the mind?