The Gray Scarf: isn’t a cinquain poem

The Gray Scarf is the theme for the #TANKATUESDAY Weekly #Poetry Challenge No. 199 #THEMEPROMPT. The prompt is to write a syllabic poem telling a story about The Gray Scarf. 

The Gray Scarf

My poem The Gray Scarf is in response to the Word Craft Poetry challenge. To us Brits, I apologise for misspelling the word grey. Americans like to alter spelling and pronunciation of English words—but, hey! Gray is grey! Vive la différence.

The Gray Scarf
The gray scarf wrapped around my neck, 
knit in Cashmere, soft, warm with sinuous thread. 
It coils tighter… tighter… Oh heck! 
A tortuous twist—that snakes about my head. 
I am aghast. 
Oh blast! 
It is alive!—and thinks it is a python. 
I am dead. 

L. S. November 2022

“A tortuous twist—that snakes about my head.”

L. S. November 2022

What is a Cinquain?

The Cinquain poem dates back to medieval French poetry. Cinquain, of course, translates as five. 5 lines make up the cinquain. The rhyme scheme can be ababb, abaab, or abccb. I understand that there are *rules on how many syllables to use per line. I am ignoring those rules as by the example of Edgar Allen, Poe’s cinquain To Helen, he appears to have ignored those particular strictures (if it’s good enough for Poe, it’s good enough for me!).

To Helen

by Edgar Allen Poe
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

Note* I wanted my poem to be a cinquain. It didn’t turn out that way. At first, I wrote it in only five lines, but since discovering it didn’t meet the syllabic rules of the cinquain (I don’t think the Edgar Allan Poe does either) I’ve added a couple more lines. Therefore, it no longer can be called a cinquain, can it? A hotchpotch cinquain, perhaps?

The cinquain is a five-line, non-rhyming poem featuring a syllable structure of 2-4-6-8-2. Cinquain need a title. Choose words that create drama that builds into the fourth line. The turn occurs on line five, the most important line. This is where you change your focus away from the drama in some interesting way.

Okay, I’ve failed in writing a cinquain according to the rules. I’m woeful. I ask, if Edgar Allan Poe’s poem (quoted above) is a cinquain, why is it a cinquain? Is it because it is a stanza of five lines? The rules are contradictory. One set of rules says it has a rhyme scheme, yet another says it is non-rhyming. Ah well. It was fun writing The Gray Scarf, whatever its syllabic structure failings. I would write another cinquain about the gray scarf, but the scarf got me and I’m indisposed. 😂

If my poem THE GRAY SCARF is not a cinquain, perhaps I can invent a poetry form called The Gray Scarf structure?

The Gray Scarf structure
One stanza of 8 lines
Rhyme scheme: ababccxb
Syllable count: 8, 11, 8, 11, 4, 2, 11, 3

Simple, don’t you agree?

My thanks to Eugi and to #TankaTuesdsy for inspiring my forlorn first attempt at a cinquain poem. Anything you need to know about poetry forms can be found on the Word Craft Poetry website.

33 responses to “The Gray Scarf: isn’t a cinquain poem”

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