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As the name suggests, a cinquain is a five line stanza, varied in rhyme and line, usually ababb[?]. Also known as a quintain. For example, a stanza from Percy Bysshe Shelley's "To a Skylark":
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

Cinquain also has a more specialised meaning. Under the influence of Japanese poetry[?], the American poet Adelaide Crapsy[?] developed a poetic form she called "a cinquain". This is a short, unrhymed poem of twenty-two syllables, five lines of respectively 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables.

Her cinquains were published posthumously in 1915 in her The Complete Poems. Cinquains became better known through the work of Carl Sandburg (Cornhuskers, 1918) and Louis Utermeyer[?]'s (Modern American Poetry, 1919). Here is a well-known Crapsy cinquain:

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

Web Resources:
Amaze-Cinquain--the Online Journal of the Cinquain form http://www.amaze-cinquain.com

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