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.
Continue reading “10-line Poem Challenge #28: Sonnetina Cinque”