A Cinquain is a type of poem that was originally created by Brooklyn born poet, Adelaide Crapsey. This type of poem utilizes five, non-rhyming line, with different syllables required for each line. The syllable pattern follows this pattern: for line one – two syllables; for line two – four syllables; for line three – six syllables; for line four – eight syllables; and for line five – two syllables again.
The cinquain is considered a type of shape poetry. This is because when you use the proper syllables for each line, a symmetrical, unique shape will be created, from the descriptive and interesting works you use. The actual cinquain is derived from the Latin root for the word “five,” which makes sense since this poem is made up of five lines.
While the traditional cinquain poem utilizes syllables to determine what words to use on each line, there are variations that have been created by modern poets. Some of the most common variations include the reverse cinquain, which basically uses the syllable structure mentioned above in reverse, and the mirror cinquain which is made up of two five-line stanzas, which use the original syllable structure, followed by the reverse syllable structure.