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CINQUAINS AND TANKAS

CINQUAINS AND TANKAS

 


Cinquains and Tankas

A cinquain is a 5-line poem with this structure: 1st  line - 1 word  -  noun
2nd line - 2 words - describe the noun
3rd line - 3 words - actions
4th line - 4 words - feelings
5th line - 1 word  -  noun - another word for first word

Tankas-a form of Japanese poetry; the 1st and 3rd lines have five syllables and the 2nd, 4th, and 5th have seven syllables


 

Perhaps as early as in 1909, the shy and sensitive Adelaide Crapsy had read A Hundred Verses from Old Japan, William N. Porter's translations of the Hyakunin Isshu anthology and From the Eastern Sea by Yone Nogushis. In Adelaide's notebook she lists eleven tanka and eight haiku she had translated from Antholgie de la littérature japonaise des origines au XX siécle from Marcel Revon. So influenced, she developed her own poetic system which she then called cinquain.

These short, unrhymed poems consisting of twenty-two syllables distributed as 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, in five lines were related to but not copied from Japanese literary styles. Though she devised this form in 1909 - 1910, most of the fifteen poems she saved were written between 1911 and 1914. An early death at 37 from tuberculosis prevented her from exploring the genre further.

Published posthumously, in 1915, with her other works as The Complete Poems, cinquains came to be well-known only through the efforts of Carl Sandburg in his anthology, Cornhuskers, 1918 and Louis Utermeyer's Modern American Poetry, 1919. The most famous of the few Crapsy cinquains from her The Complete Poems is:

TRIAD

These be
Three silent things:
The falling snow... the hour
Before the dawn... the mouth of one
Just dead.

http://www.ahapoetry.com/cinqhmpg.htm



Tree
Strong, Tall
Swaying, swinging, sighing
Memories of summer
Oak

 



CINQUAINS
by
Thomas D. Greer

 

FATHERHOOD

1

Shaving:
lather, scrape, rinse,
drowsy repetition.
Two sons stand crowding at the door,
staring.

2

Pickup,
parked in the lot:
bicycles in the bed --
wheels slowly progress, back and forth,
waiting.

3

Sidewalk:
stone-chalked portraits,
roller skate-obstructed,
a nearly intact Fudgesicle,
melting.

4

Newscast:
another child
"missing, last seen wearing..."
All night long, awake, listening,
checking.

5

Waking
at 3:00 a.m.
panicked, sure I forgot
something important. Did Andrew
potty?!

6

Watching
his brother climb
the backyard's tallest tree.
His eyes follow, he tells himself:
One day.

______________________________

SHARING

Eyes shut,
biting his lip,
a solid, dusty, whump!
announces the summer triumph:
first catch!

We sit
on the front porch,
tugging the loose laces -
"It was my father's mitt, then mine,
now yours."

Later,
he gives the mitt
to his little brother,
explains the history and says,
"I'll share."

________________________________

INSTRUCTION

1. Frisbee
A flick,
easy, but quick...
Your wrist, son. Watch, here's how.
Twist your waist, unwind your arm,
now - release!

2. Batting

Choke up!
Bat off shoulder.
Look here! Eyes on the ball...
It's ok! Try again... Now SWING!
Once more.

3. Turn-about

No, Dad.
Push this button.
Go get your extra man!
You gotta jump! Watch out! Sorry.
You lose.

_______________________________

OASIS

1

Your skin,
a delicate
melange of sand and sun,
the slightest taste of cinnamon
and salt.

2

Your hair
spills through my hands;
I think of a savage
kneeling beside a dark river --
quenching.

3

Your eyes,
liquid clay-brown,
mold my nomadic thoughts
into the Islamic shape of
your eyes.

_____________________________

SHORTLY EVER-AFTER

She dusts
framed photographs,
the wedding, the babies,
placing them just so, turning him
face down.

 

Copyright © Thomas D. Greer 1996





CINQUAINS
by
Alan Reynolds

CLOUD STREAM FOG MORNING

Child waved
from car ahead.
She knew me, then. Do I?
Who hangs here locked away behind
my eyes?

My eyes
saw pain, chilled rain,
last waves, your laughed-at plans;
yet never looked with any sense
at me.

Gray chill.
Men's eyes look down;
hands tend to bending rods.
Cloud Stream hides golden fish as old
as God.

Why these
dire sounds (soft, dead)
in dense fog near my head:
youth dreams that toll away? My screams?
They go.

----------------------------------

ANDIJK

Andijk,
tiny North town:
small houses ride big farms
across polders diked safe beneath
cool sea.

Short run,
bikes into wind:
twenty-kilometre
black flat fields dream they're still beneath
that sea.

Kestrel,
silent from here:
twenty metres due South
and ten below where she now hangs
to stoop.

Green hangs
near blue today,
and grey, soft-edged; as Spring
takes wing, kisses wet-colours land
to life.

False light,
sun through cloud-breaks:
mother sheep show black new lambs
old paths up dikes to freshest grass.
Crows wait.

CINQ CINQUAINS

THE PATH, 1

Grey shells
on walk, fresh spread
for summer's tourist surge,
await, as for a million years,
my tread.

MALL CONTENTS

They shriek
and grab and push
always for new. Plump trash-
family children in last year's
bright colours.

CAREER MOVE

Jobs came
first in our plans;
we moved from place to place
to end atop the pyramid.
Jobs went.

LIKE POPCORN

Cinquains
pop hot and fresh:
full tubs of froth and salt
in splendid form, tasty and warm
then flat.

THE PATH, 2

What have
you seen the cat
consume or ferret take?
What slaking gifts hung by the shrike,
o path?

 


----------------------------------

MESOZOIC PROPHECY

We stand,
proud dinosaurs
in grass. The asteroid
that will obliterate our reign
locks on.

Look on.
Attend that Roach
who waits, wrapped in black wings,
to dog our doom. You think he waits
his turn?

His turn
requires more time.
He'll bide, while mammals teem
this earth and steam our place with their
hot blood.

Odd, blood.
It'll course in veins, emend
to humans' time: they'll chime
the knell for all they've left to board
their Ark.

Fair spark
from reddest eyes
of Earth's unknown true god,
the Roach, will call in friendly fire,
as now.

 

Copyright © Alan Reynolds, 1996.

 


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