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The cinquain is a simple verse, and although it sounds French, it’s actually an American form which whose development was strongly influenced by the Japanese haiku. Carl Sandberg was a huge lover of this form. Putting an American spin on the haiku’s “less is more” philosophy, the cinquain attempts to allow the reader to fully experience the subject with a minimum of description.

A cinquain is composed in the five following lines:

  1. the noun(subject)
  2. description
  3. action
  4. feeling or effect
  5. synonym of the noun

Also, it is written in iamb(meter) with alternating syllabic accents. The syllabic structure by line is 2-4-6-8-2. It all sounds rather complex, until you get the hang of it.

Here are a few that I wrote as examples.

-Salsa-

They dance
Bodies moving
Two souls play together
And say all that their words cannot
They’re free

-Breakup-

Lost love
Forever gone
Friends talk amongst themselves
And wonder what could have gone wrong
Just fear

-Harley-

My ride
Face in the wind
Tearing down the highway
Some days I wish would never end
Roll on

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