10-line Poem Challenge #28: Sonnetina Cinque

You may recall that a sonnet is a 14-line poem. A sonnetina therefore, is an abbreviated sonnet, having the form of a sonnet, but only 10 lines long.

The more I uncover about the Sonnetina Cinque, the more I learn just how versatile this form can be. The Sonnetina Cinque is written in two parts (though not necessarily two stanzas). The first part presents a question or statement, and the second part answers the question or counters the statement. Beyond this requirement, the actual form of the two parts can be any quintain (5-line stanza), including but not limited to the quintilla, limerick, lanturne, tetractys, oddquain, cinquain, tanka, blank verse, and free verse.

All the following forms have 5 lines and could be used, when doubled, to form a Sonnetina Cinque:

Quintain — general term referring to any stanza of 5 lines
Quintilla — 8 syllables per line with rhyme scheme: ababa, abbab, abaab, aabab, or aabba
Limerick — anapestic trimeter/dimeter with rhyme scheme: aabba
Lanturne — unrhymed verse with syllabic count: 1-2-3-4-1
Tetractys — unrhymed verse with syllabic count: 1-2-3-4-10
Oddquain — unrhymed verses with syllabic count: 1-3-5-7-1
Cinquain — unrhymed verse with syllabic count: 2-4-6-8-2
Tanka — unrhymed verse with syllabic count: 5-7-5-7-7
Blank verse — unrhymed verse in iambic pentameter
Free verse — unrhymed verse with no particular meter or line length

You may be thinking that we have already studied the Double Tetractys, Mirror Cinquain, and Mirror Oddquain. What’s the difference between those and the Sonnetina Cinque? I’m glad you asked. There are two differences.

(1) To form the Double Tetractys, Mirror Cinquain, and Mirror Oddquain, the syllabic structure is reversed for the second stanza; but to form the Sonnetina Cinque, the syllabic structure is repeated in the same order as for the first stanza, such that they are not a mirror image of each other.

(2) In the Sonnetina Cinque, the second stanza provides a counterpoint to the point of the first stanza. This is not necessarily true in the other forms, and it is the distinguishing feature of this particular form.

If terms like tetrameter and iambic mean nothing to you, I invite you to look at my earlier post, “The Nuts and Bolts of Poetry: Rhythm, Meter, and Rhyme,” for some help sorting out these terms if they are foreign to you. But with all the many forms at your disposal, I don’t think writing a Sonnetina Cinque is out of anyone’s reach.

In summary, the Sonnetina Cinque is:

  • A decastich (10-line poem) written in two 5-line segments (quintains). They may be written as two stanzas (with a break in between), but more often it is a single stanza of 10 lines.
  • The first segment gives a statement or sets up a question.
  • The second segment gives a counter statement to the first or answers the question.
  • It is usually written in iambic tetrameter or pentameter (8-10 syllables), but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Rhyme is optional. Generally, the quintain form you choose will determine line length and rhyme.

Samples

Below are two samples for you. The first one is written in the style of a traditional English sonnet. In fact, I made an allusion to the English sonnet by addressing my writing to Shakespeare and “apologizing” for the brevity.

The second poem illustrates the possibility of using one of the alternate quintain forms, thus straying wildly from the typical format of a sonnet. In this case, I chose to write a double lanturne. I plan to eventually write at least one Sonnetina Cinque in every form listed above. If you don’t like rhyme or counting metrical feet, then one of these options might be perfect for you. Just remember to begin with a statement or question and conclude with a contrastatement or answer to the question. After all, that’s what makes it a Sonnetina Cinque.

Apologies to Shakespeare

To tell of love I first must sit and think,
As I compose my Sonnetina Cinque.
Were Shakespeare here, he’d think my rhyme too brief,
With but ten lines to read upon the leaf;
To add four more were not a waste of ink.

But this is not Elizabethan verse,
So proudly I shall write my poem terse
And hope in time to help, by my employ,
Some others this fine genre to enjoy
And to some listening ear my work rehearse.

Iambic pentameter; rhyme scheme: aabba ccddc
Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved

Time to Sleep

Night
Falls and
Sleep comes to
Resident and
Guest.
Still—
Nothing
Moves at all,
In eternal
Rest.

Double Lanturne
Copyright © 2018 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved

It’s Your Turn!

Now it’s time for you to write a Sonnetina Cinque. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Choose a topic. It can be anything. If you’re struggling for an idea, you might consider the Daily Prompts from The Daily Post
  2. May I suggest you write on a piece of paper or in a notebook.
  3. If you are using the syllabic-count method, then down the left column write the numbers representing the syllables required for each line. If counting feet, write the number of feet you plan to incorporate (4 for tetrameter, 5 for pentameter, etc.).
  4. Across from the numbers, in the right column, write the letter for your rhyme scheme, if any. If writing an unrhymed poem, leave the right column blank.
  5. Now, inside this framework, write your poem.
  6. Try to avoid filler words. Instead, use a thesaurus to find precise words that give you the right syllable count for each line.
  7. And of course, when you are finished, share your poem with the rest of us.

Don’t know how? Follow these simple steps…

  1. Write your blog post.
  2. Include the tag Decastich Challenge or 10LPC
  3. Publish your post on your blog.
  4. Come back here and click the blue button below to add your link to the others.

Dig Deeper

To find more samples and to learn from those who taught me, check out these sites. All links open in a separate tab so you can easily find your way back here.

Poet’s Collective ~ The forms on this website are not organized in alphabetical order, but he does have at least one sample poem for each form, he even has tags for rhyme scheme. He also has a visual template for every form so you can see the rhyme scheme and stress patterns, as applicable. That is extremely helpful.

Sol Magazine ~ This resource covers much more than just 10-line poems.

“Metric Forms from Pathways for the Poet” ~ This is an outline of information from Pathways for the Poet by Viola Berg (1977), a book for and by educators. This resource also includes more than just 10-line poems, but it helped to fill in the gaps where my other sources were a bit scanty with their information.

Shadow Poetry ~ This is my favorite resource for learning about poetic forms (and not just the decastich), but I have discovered that there is ever so much more to learn than what I can find here. This is, however, a very good place to start.

8 Replies to “10-line Poem Challenge #28: Sonnetina Cinque”

  1. I LOVE both your poems! Did you once teach English? Or do you teach? This is an amazing description of this poetic form. I have always struggled with understanding poetic forms, but you explain them in terms that make it all so much easier to grasp. Excellent post all the way around. Your “Apologies to Shakespeare” made me grin from ear-to-ear! Love it; love you, too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does my heart such good to know this has helped you! Yes, I am a former English teacher. I taught 8th grade English, but only for one year. Most of my teaching experience is in Spanish, music, and algebra. 🙂 Love you too, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

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