Where poetry-lovers practice poetry

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Let Me Sing Longer

Writing a Cinquain


A cinquain (sing-KANE) is a short, unrhymed poem. This style was named and created by Adelaide Crapsy (1878-1914) in the early 1900's. Her poems were not published until after she died.

Its form consists of 22 syllables:

First Line: a one word title (two syllables)
Second Line: a two word phrase that describes the title or you can just use two words (four syllables)
Third Line: a three word phrase that describes an action relating to the title or just actions words (six syllables)
Forth Line: a four word phrase that describes a feeling relating to the topic or just feeling words (eight syllables)
Fifth Line: one word that refers back to the title (two syllables)

The title, due to the shortness of the poem, takes on a greater weight because it is one sixth of the poem.


Niagara, Seen on a Night in November
by Adelaide Crapsy

How frail
Above the bulk
Of crashing water hangs
Autumnal, evanescent, wan,
The moon.


Moon Shadows
by Adelaide Crapsy

Still as
On windless nights
The moon-cast shadows are,
So still will be my heart when I
Am dead.


by Adelaide Crapsy

I know
Not these my hands
And yet I think there was
A woman like me once had hands
Like these.


Carl Sandburg wrote a poem about reading her poetry and to honor her memory.

Adelaide Crapsey
by Carl Sandburg

Among the bumble-bees in red-top hay, a freckled field of brown-eyed Susans dripping yellow leaves in July,
I read your heart in a book.

And your mouth of blue pansy—I know somewhere I have seen it rain-shattered.

And I have seen a woman with her head flung between her naked knees, and her head held there listening to the sea, the great naked sea shouldering a load of salt.

And the blue pansy mouth sang to the sea:
Mother of God, I’m so little a thing,
Let me sing longer,
Only a little longer.

And the sea shouldered its salt in long gray combers hauling new shapes on the beach sand.

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