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Thread: Five Cinquains

  1. #1
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Five Cinquains

    (Titles are also first lines)

    Sweat Drops
    Air, thick’ning, Swells
    Heat waves~~Gel—Dense Concrete
    liquefying into a sea
    Then, rain

    Snowfall
    Enshrouded field
    Hushed with lightning whiteness
    Dismantled tree—thunder—ravens
    Rise slow

    Python
    Constricts around
    Rabbit’s dying body—
    Unhinging jaws broadly open,
    To taste

    Daughter
    She plays with dolls,
    Dreams of being a woman;
    I tuck her in—wake to find that
    She’s gone

    Paring
    A poem down—
    SEX or Simplify and
    Exclude—to one single word, or
    A pair
    Last edited by MorpheusSandman; 05-06-2012 at 07:20 AM.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  2. #2
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Beautifull pieces,some strikingly sadders then others
    the daughter one is one, very well written and dod catch my eye, very sweet.
    The snowfall is beautifully dramatic.
    I enjoyed them a lot, thank you Morpheus!
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  3. #3
    ShadowsCool ShadowsCool's Avatar
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    Mmm, I like em. Especially the daughter.
    shad·ow ing

  4. #4
    The puddytat you saw Hawkman's Avatar
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    You seem to have departed somewhat from Crapsey's form, having incorporated a more overtly oriental approach.

    You also appear to be just going by syllable count. This makes them rather fractured reads where rhthm is absent, especially as in some you have gone for stress-heavy lines. This is probably why the Daughter poem is attracting most comment, as it reads more naturally.

    In Python, I don't like "enwraps around," as it reads as tautologous, constricts might have been better then enwraps here, but apart from that I quite like this one too.

    Snowfall is also good, but is let down a bit by the final line, Rather than, "rise slow" which is un-grammatical, simply, "rising" would be far more effective and haunting as a finale.

    Not keen in the forcing in the first one; that overt dropping of the middle syllable in thickening is jarring, especially as "thickens" would fit better in the sense of the line, and why the capitalisations? Swells, Gel-Dense, Concrete... (concrete; noun or verb?) I'm also uncertain if you mean to hyphenate gel-dense or were indicating a dash. Sorry if this sounds silly, but a number of writers on the forum don't put a space before and after a dash when they apparently intended it not to be a link, but a separation. It confuses the Hawk. I feel that if you had used it as spearation the line would work better.

    The last one reads like a crossword clue, but I don't say that is a bad thing

    I think I'd have liked to see you produce more Crapseyesque cinquains, but then I just like my poetry more rhythmic

    Interesting collection.

    Live and be well - H
    Last edited by Hawkman; 05-06-2012 at 06:47 AM.
    Oh no, not again...

  5. #5
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Shadows and cacian: Thanks

    Hawk:

    Well, I didn't depart from Crapsey's form, but merely her method for relying on complete sentences. There is a more overtly oriental approach in which I try to treat each line as a semi-complete entity in itself. It is more fractured by design (again, usually--I have written some as complete sentences, though I think I prefer fragmented for this form). Although, I don't go purely by syllable count usually. Normally what I do, which is just my own idiosyncratic rule I made up, is switch between iambs and trochees for each line, with the 4th line split in the middle (meaning it features iambs for the first two feet and then trochees for the second two or vice versa). Sweat Drops is an obvious exception.

    Good note on the tautology of "enwraps around". I'll change that immediately.

    Rise slow is as ungrammatical as Milton, who loved such inversions and adjectival substitutions for adverbs. Rising doesn't work because because Rise slow is meant to inverse "Snowfall" (rise pairs with fall, Snow pairs with slow). That's another formal tendency of mine in cinquains, to parallel the first and last line in some way (again, not always, but usually).

    Sweat Drops is probably the most complex cinquain I've attempted in terms of rhythms, capitalizations VS non-capitalizations, punctuation, ellisions, and overall form. I've never tried cramming so much into one. The elision of the "e" in "thickening" is specificically there to make it sound more "thick," as if it's squeezed the "e" out of the word. The capitalization are all connected to the words having to do with solids and growth (concrete is a noun). Gel--Dense is an em-dash, separating the two thoughts. It's not "Gel-dense" like "self-awareness," but like "I thought that you--nevermind". I've tried in cinquains to use em-dashes to imitate the Japanese kireji or "cutting word" in Haikus that are meant to separate and conjoin at the same time, and while it's a poor substitute, it's better than nothing. I don't like using spaces precisely because I want it to be ambiguous as to the nature of the connection. 5 lines isn't much to cram suggestion into, so I'll take whatever ambiguity I can get. It's also worth nothing in that one that I tried to mimic the movement from solidity to liquid in the rhythm.

    The last one is just a bit of a joke. SEX is an acronym for "Simplify and EXclude" often applied to composition in photography (the axiom being that too much in a frame defocuses the eye). Cinquains are very minimalistic, so a minimalistic form about a minimalistic concept just seemed to fit. Plus, it starts with one word and ends with "a pair".

    Besides sonnets, cinquains have become kinda my favorite pet form. I'll just admit to not caring for most of Crapsey's I read, so I decided to commendeer the form and give it a more oriental flavor, as you noted, but with spiced up with some of my own weird rules (one thing I usually try is to make sure every word has its parallel somewhere in the piece, and the only way to accomplish that is usually to synthesize two concepts into one somewhere in the last two lines so, eg, "hushed" and "lightning" synthesize to "thunder" in the next line, ravens contrast whitness, enshrouded field/dismantled tree, snowfall/rise slow).

    I know, I'm weird.
    Last edited by MorpheusSandman; 05-06-2012 at 07:23 AM.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  6. #6
    The puddytat you saw Hawkman's Avatar
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    I think I could argue a departure from Crapsey's "form" in that she incoporated a sixth line title and stuck more to an iambic rhythm. I wouldn't necessarily claim that she wrote in complete sentences, the lines just read more fluidly. I don't claim to be an expert on cinquains btw.

    I think your intent with the dashes would be clearer in a more conventional, syntactical, sentence presentation, where it would be contexually obvious. In fact I only read it as a hyphen in the first poem, because it seemed to be the only way it made sense. Gel-dense is kind of logical as a combining of words in descriptive form: Gel - dense would function better as caesura. I guess as writers we are all guilty~to some extent~of expecting our readers to automatically descern our intent - lol.

    As for rise slow over rising, I felt that rising was more in keeping with the oriental flavour, that wistful fading thought which charcterises some Japanese haiku. I guess it's just me reading the text to a suggested pattern and missing an element of your composition. Also, the use of adjectives as adverbs is a more American habit. As Milton was writing in the 17th century, before conventions of grammar had been rationalised into what we might consider normal today, I don't actually think he's a good example However, it does kind of reinforce my point about American grammar, as this was the time when America was being colonised!

    Live and be well - H
    Oh no, not again...

  7. #7
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Oh, yeah, I guess I did drop Crapsey's "6th line title" and iambic consistency. The iamb certainly flows better because it's, well, consistent, but I think what's lost in the smoothness of flow is gained in the breath/push created by trochee endings/iambic beginnings and iambic endings/trochee beginnings. It fits better, IMO, with the more fragmentary nature.

    Frankly, I wonder if the font on these forums just doesn't make an em-dash harder to see than a hyphen. Let's experiment:

    Self—conscious
    Self-conscious

    Hmm, I guess you can see a difference when they're right next to each other. I wonder how many know to read em-dashes differently than hyphens? FWIW, I do not mind one reading it "Gel (adverb) dense (adjective)" at all. Like I said, it's meant to be ambiguous. The em-dash does make the relationship between words more unclear, and I think that's one reason Dickinson liked it so much.

    Milton was writing before certain conventions were normalized but, really, nobody ever wrote or talked like Milton in normal conversation! His model was Virgil and that often meant he used very complex, Latinate constructions that distorted English grammar and syntax to the semantic breaking point. Every critic, even in Milton's own day, remarked on how artificial and "heightened" his language was, and it's always been a love it or hate it thing (I do highly recommend Ricks' book "Milton's Grand Style" on this subject). I sometimes wish someone else could write like that today. Keats tried early on, but came to the conclusion that it was just no longer tenable, either because he felt compelled to conform to a more natural style ala Lyrical Ballads, or because he just felt like that there was no real imitating Milton without looking like a doofus. I found that out the hard way when I wrote my own mini blank-verse epic, so now I just stick to trying to sneak little bits and pieces of Miltonic artifice here and there into my pieces!
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  8. #8
    The puddytat you saw Hawkman's Avatar
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    I don't think it's a question of not knowing how to read an em-dash, it's a question of interpreting it in a peculiar context, as I think I explained in my earlier reply. The point I was trying to make with American grammar, is that American English, and English English have evolved separately from a common point, easily exemplarised by differences in spelling and pronunciation, but also apparant in our respective literature. The "Down Home" idiom and abbreviated prose style of writers like Twain, Steinbeck and Hemmingway. Then, Of course you get the opposite extreem with Henry James - lol.

    Anyway, feel free to play, but be prepared for the eventuality that some readers will be pulled up short by your idiomatic useage!

    Live and be well - H
    Oh no, not again...

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