Poetry challenge #6: Cinquain

Another new one on me, and a relatively new form. To find out the rules, have a look here at some examples as the rules aren’t hard and fast and there are several types to choose from. I had a go at two of the styles. The first two poems follow the syllable rule: five line poem on any theme with syllables following a 2-4-6-8-2 pattern.

Hope drops

In trills of song,

Bird-fluttering rushes.

River runs ever to the sea.



I hear

Among dry sedge,

Flutter of brown songbirds,

While sorrows slide into the stream,

Sweet balm.


This third poem is based on the ‘words’ style: 1-2-3-4-1 pattern of words where the first is a noun, the second two adjectives describing the noun, three and four description, emotion, and the last word a synonym for the first noun. Sounds complicated when I tell it, but it isn’t.



Bright-eyed, fearless,

Singer of songs,

Lighten our winter darkness,



For the rebels amongst you, I’ll accept any five line poem as long as it follows some kind of logical pattern.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

75 thoughts on “Poetry challenge #6: Cinquain”

  1. I decided to combine this week’s cinquin challenge with this week’s Three Word Wednesday (http://www.threewordwednesday.com/2015/11/3ww-week-no-454.html). The three words to be included were enigmatic, faulty and grovel. I have used the same two cinquin formats as you.



    What has she done this time?
    What random act deemed faulty? Best



    (Enigmatic, fleeting)
    Made him grovel,
    Forswear his faulty murderous

      1. Thank you kindly, Jane. Once was not too difficulty. The rematch was a little more of a struggle. Especially as I wanted to plough fresh soil rather than go over old ground a second time. It’s a while I’ve been to 3WW. Thanks for giving me the opportunity. 🙂

  2. You’ve brought us another great challenge, Jane, with outstanding exemplars and excellent responses.
    My response , inspired by Rogier van der Weyden’s painting, The Descent from the Cross, and titled Age-Old Tears, includes both syllable and word formats:

    Her tears
    May seem to dry
    To the unseeing eye
    Grieving mother’s souls know only

    Is powerless
    Holds no sway
    Tears dry not with

  3. I was introduced to cinquains earlier this year. Being a bit of a syllabic poet (self-proclaimed, of course), I really enjoyed writing them, although I don’t do a lot due to my heart being about the haiku. You can see all of mine at this link: https://rtoddwrites.wordpress.com/category/poetry/cinquain/

    Or… if you prefer, here is one named Bubbles:
    Tiny and light
    Dancing on the cat’s nose
    Who’s, coincidentally, named

  4. Hope to have a Ping on its way to you sometime overnight. If not by morning than by mid-day. Fascinating Cinquain is. Researched the many kinds. I like the one I used with the fourth line forming a sentence. But after figuring out the 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 2, I think that become a strong part of my poetic repertoire. Thanks for bringing in such a variety of styles to write poems. The second Cinquain has great hints of the Haiku. It is why I feel I am finally drawn to it. Understanding helped too.

      1. The Cinquain I used took me a while to figure out properly. The one I want to challenge next is the 2-4-6-8-2 using syllables. It will be more challenging I think. More like Haiku and yes Tricky, I think, too.

      1. Yes, we expect to have moved into the years of enlightenment but I think maybe that is an illusion we would like to believe in. But there are those who would see it destroyed. There are always those spoilers.

      2. I would like to see the world accept the differences of all people and to find a way to live amongst the difference in some semblance of peace and co-operation. Not the violence of ISIS and their brainwashing of young people into believing they are the latest revolutionaries. One of the awful things they do besides executing and blowing up people, they lure young girls and women into their madness. The young women think they are going to become revolutionaries at the side of the men, instead they are wives, child-bearers, slaves and they must obey the men & their harsh rules. The only time the young women participate is if they need a replacement bomber to blow themselves up. And the women buy their BS. Pathetic, vile creature, the men of ISIS and the young women who buy their BS don’t get it.

      3. I find it impossible to understand why intelligent women give themselves into this kind of slavery. Their explanations, however they wrap them up, all boil down to handing over their liberty to a man, to let a man decide everything for them, do anything to them that goes through his head, and expect nothing out of life except isolation, children, and, well, that’s about it.


      4. It is sad. We earn our liberties and some men are always trying to push it backwards. Fortunately their are those who give us their support but when women push us backwards, that is beyond comprehension. It would seem there are those who still need men’s approval to exist.

      5. Same way some of us pretend he’s hitting us because we deserve it/he’s feeling down about something/because that’s what real he-men do/because I provoked him. Who knows?

      6. Agree. Some people just have excuses or live inside a dream and pretend something different is happening. All the while the provocation continues on the edge of out of control or too much control.

      7. Or if what is happening is awful, it’s her fault. It’s maybe partly the indoctrination that if a man ‘goes to the bad’ it’s because his wife can’t keep him. Women always seem to be in a lose/lose situation.

      8. It seems almost impossible to take the power from men or to at least make it equal. They [men] don’t want to release it. I am deep into film and it is one of the worst offenders of equality for women. Either its age or women don’t bring in the audience or the studio heads automatically think of a male director to head a project. Women have proven themselves to be successful filmmakers but they don’t get the chance to continue proving it. The problem with this situations is that women’s stories aren’t being told as often as they should be or even being considered as worthy. Women don’t have the money. Even the highest paid women actors don’t make the same money men do for a similar project. I am talking the best of the acting field. Yes, the best of the best get more money than regular people but still not as much as men do. Unfair. Unjust. And the ACLU is going to get into the faces of Hollywood starting in 2016 to turn this around. If we don’t have women making films then women aren’t being employed and expressing their creative abilities and telling our stories. We don’t have characters we can identify with, in the same way we don’t have characters to identify with in the world of fiction or in the creative world in general. Women need to break down the barrier, not just in personal relationships, but in getting our story our there in every way possible. Get the truth out there, showing we still are second class citizens on so many levels and not just in battered relationships. If we get control of who tells the story or an equal position to tell our story, we can get out how women are forced to live in limiting relationships. It is just the injustice of it all. Art is a way for women to have a voice but even there we have to push our way into the room and raise our voices louder. And yes we need help. Maybe even help from those kind of men who helped us get the right to vote. Not it is time to make our space larger and louder so we can be heard, seen, and recognized as an integral part of the picture of life on Earth.

      9. Cinema’s not my thing, but I know there are more films being made by North African woman for example, and women of immigrant origin in France. They’re not showing women as super heroes, but the way it is, the problems between the generations, the religious and cultural divisions between generations and between the immigrant and host cultures. Women will make things change, I’m sure. If only because they have most to gain.

      10. I like what you said and I agree if women are to make a difference they need the exposure and the support to keep telling their stories and expanding their audience. Once the word travels it will be like the genie, never to go back in the darkness and prison of the bottle again. I want to see women thrive. It took me a long time and a great support group, including my female partner to recover from the world of ‘bad’ men and ‘bad’ women, also.

      11. It goes deep into our cultural heritage, the bullying of women by the physical force of men. Now that our western world is regulated much more by brain than brawn, the excuses have just fizzled away. Once women do impose themselves there’ll be no going back.

  5. Hi Jane: Happy to see my two pings made it here. I’ve been trying out the various forms described in the link you gave us…I sort of fell into a particular style, but I can see from what you and others did, there is much potential for other approaches. Here is my ‘word count’ one which I’ll be posting tomorrow..I decided to ‘cheat’ on line 4 because it felt better than what I originally wrote (‘to seek’ replaced ‘seeking’)…maybe it’ll read differently tomorrow..who knows.


    caught in

    bleak killing chaos,

    rise with courage, to seek


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