The Didactic Cinquain
How long has it been since you sat in an English grammar lesson? If it’s been a while, then today is your lucky day! Why? Because you are about to get a little refresher course… in the form of poetry! What could be better than that?
I have no idea which teacher originally invented the Didactic Cinquain for use in the classroom, but the idea caught on and has been in wide circulation for many years. In fact, I wrote didactic cinquains in my high school English class back in the ’80’s. The formula is fairly simple, and its purpose is to help students develop a sense of how words relate to one another. It falls just short of being a parts-of-speech poem, due to L4 breaking from that mold. I suppose you could get technical there, but that would make the poem more complicated than it needs to be.
Line 1 = one single word = NOUN
Line 2 = two words that describe that noun = ADJECTIVES
Line 3 = three words that express action and end in -ing = VERBS
Line 4 = a four-word phrase about the way the noun makes you feel = PHRASE
Line 5 = a synonym of the initial noun = NOUN
Incidentally, the lexical structure of the Didactic Cinquain (1-2-3-4-1 words) mirrors the syllabic structure of the Japanese Lanturne (1-2-3-4-1 syllables).
One more thing: the Didactic Cinquain does not have to be centered. I center mine because I think they look good that way, but you may present yours any way you like.
Capitalization at the beginning of each line is optional as well. Back in the 1980’s—unless your name was e.e. cummings—you always capitalized the first word of each line of poetry, but nowadays the trend is to make everything lowercase.
These two samples are mine and were both written when I was in high school. As you can see, on L2 in both of them, I wrote a phrase that included an adjective, but one of the words was a noun, so technically I did not follow the rule. Also, in the first one, it could be argued that “homework” in L5 is not a fitting synonym for “school” in L1. In the more recent poem, which I’ll be sharing for the link-up, I followed the rules more closely.
Teaching, learning, reading
Pencils, pens, and books
Laughing, playing, working
Never a dull moment
Write Your Own
Now it’s time for you to write your own Didactic Cinquain.
- Choose a one-word theme (noun).
- Write two words that both describe that noun (adjectives).
- Write three action words, ending with -ing, that relate to your noun (verbs).
- Write a 4-word phrase that shows how your noun makes you feel.
- Write another noun that is similar to the original one (synonym).
- Publish to your blog.
- Come back here and click the link to add your post to the linkup.
- Encourage your friends to join the party!
- Read other people’s posts and leave a comment.