A “cinquain” is a poem, though it is no ordinary poem. It is the preferred artistic method of an inebriated exposition. Or to put it another way… when people who I know have a few glasses of wine it is the cinquain that they rely on to express their jubilation, as we are all, in the end, tortured poets. Often we see no reason why we should not inflict our cultured verse on those around us.
When it comes to the cinquain, my buddy Dave is a poet of the first order, and it is because of him that this post is being written at all. This represents my first attempt to write a suggested subject from somebody else. After a rather sustained celebration on Independence Day, and a rash decision to sleep on loungers in his back yard, Dave suggested that writing about the cinquain might be worth a try. I agree, although I will state for the record that I will not be pushing any soppy, “Ode to a fallen leaf in autumn…” or whatever else Lord Tarquin Smothers-Beaverbrook might once have written in 1875. Our cinquains focus on nothing less than the meta-physical and confront directly the wonders of the human condition, all that and our love for beer.
The cinquain is a structured stanza of poetry that, like haiku, conforms to a set number of syllables on each of five lines. The first line is comprised of only two syllables, the second following with four, the third has six and the fourth eight. The fifth and final line returns to only two syllables in length. After a very cursory glance at the Wikipedia entry for this form of poetry there is also, I have now discovered, a structure to the use of stressed syllables, particularly the iamb, but this is by no means exclusive and is certainly absent on our epic verse. Another reason for the absence of the iamb is that I have not the foggiest idea what the hell it is! I am sure there is a bespectacled post-graduate shaking his head in disbelief right now and saying, “bloody humanities students.”
The cinquains that we write are not an old form of poetry, having been invented by an American with the undeniably funny name of Adelaide Crapsey. Why Ms. Crapsey decided on the syllabic form she did (and why she did not establish a pen name for herself) is a mystery that persists to this day. Subjects, as with haiku, are often based around the descriptive, meaning that the body of the poem is supposed to describe a particular moment, scene or object. For example:
himself on a young pine,
the maple branch he left behind
“Jump” by Aaron Toleos.
Nice moment by Mr. Toleos, describing a small rodent jumping off a branch, but we seek to describe moments never before captured by the poet’s pencil. Following this fine example of a descriptive cinquain I will now submit, for consideration of the reader, my own composition:
Nut sack tickle
up the leg of my shorts
at Wineglass Bay, Tasmania.
Please notice the clear imagery of the moment. It’s as if you were right there feeling that light wind, isn’t it? I bet it just sends shivers down the spine, and the word tingly at the end just nails it, don’t you agree?
As mentioned in the first paragraph, these compositions often occur with the help of a little creative lubrication. An inevitable result of which is likely to be an ode to the particular beverage that we have used for inspiration.
cascading down my throat.
My Medulla Oblongata
So go out and buy a small notepad and the next time you host a dinner party, stand up and request that everyone collaborate on the composition of a cinquain. You never know what might issue forth from your guests, pure genius perhaps, or another pledge to only drink Captain Morgan Rum henceforth. Poetry is supposed to be language that reaches another level, something more than prose. It should illustrate, express, and explain things that elude all other attempts. So bearing that in mind, I shall thank my buddy Dave for his post suggestion (and a great July Fourth) with this:
Bigger than life,
barreling through it like
a caffeinated Socrates.