From Poetry Wiki
In poetry, a cinquain or quintain is a 5 line stanza, varied in rhyme and line, usually with the rhyme scheme ababb. An example of cinquain is the following stanza from Robert Browning's poem "Porphyria's Lover":
Murmuring how she loved me -- she was
Too weak, for all her heart and love
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
Cinquain also has a more specialized meaning. Influenced by Japanese poetry, the American poet Adelaide Crapsey developed a poetic form she also called a "cinquain." Hers is a short, unrhymed poem of twenty-two syllables, five lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables respectively. But there are other definitions of Cinquain see wiktionary or the bottom of this page.
Her cinquains were published posthumously in 1915 in her The Complete Poems. Cinquains became better known through tgth of Carl Sandburg (Cornhuskers, 1918) and Louis Untermeyer (Modern American Poetry, 1919). Here is the Crapsey cinquain "Triad":
Three silent things:
The falling snow... the hour
Before the dawn... the mouth of one
During season 4 episode "INAUGURATION PART I" of The West Wing, Leo McGarry indicates that the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice has "stayed too long at the fair" by citing a case decision written partially in cinquain:
or not guilty
past convictions frustrate
the judge who wonders should your fate
Cinqku, lanterne, tetractys, and quintiles are examples of variations of the Cinquain type of five-line image form. Other quintain forms can be in the style of English quintets, individual French cinquains, individual Quintillas, five line blank or free verse and Fib (poetry)in its five line version.
Adelaide Crapsey and William Soutar are perhaps the most well-known poets of the American cinquain image form. Cinqku is a fixed-form five line tanka or cinquain image poem with no title, 17 syllables, with a surprise or turn in line 4 or 5. This concise form was created by Denis Garrison, an American poet.
The didactic cinquain is an informal cinquain. It is widely taught in elementary schools and has been featured in, and popularized by, children's media resources, including Junie B. Jones and PBS Kids. This form is also embraced by young adults and older poets for its expressive simplicity.
Lanterne is a five line quintain verse shaped like a Japanese lantern with a syllabic pattern of one, two, three, four, one.Each line usually able to stand on its own as a phrase,and the poem may or may not have a title which sometimes forms an integral part as a 'sixth line.'
A tetractys is five-line poem of 20 syllables with a title, arranged in the following order: 1,2,3,4,10.with each line standing as a phrase on its own. This form was created by the late English poet Ray Stebbings.
Quintiles are multiple American cinquains, centered on a common theme, that are linked to form a longer poem. The tanka in its modern English form is the basis of each of the quintain image forms.