A cinquain is a stanza or poem made up of five lines, such as limerick and tanka. Edmund
Waller's "Song" ("Go, lovely Rose") is such a poem made up of cinquains, each of which consists of syllables of four in the first and third lines, and eight in the second, fourth and
fifth lines, with a rhyme scheme ababb:
Edmund Waller (1606-87)
Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that waste her time and me
That now she knows,
When I remember* her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
Tell her that’s young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.
Small is the worth,
Of beauty from the light retired;
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.
Then die! That she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!
Among the classical five-lined stanzas the best known is limerick which is a kind of comic verse
epigram with a rhyme pattern a a b b a. This form of verse was popularized by the comic poet Edward Lear (1812- 88), though he was not its inventor. Such poems belong to the
category of nonsense poetry because of their comic and humorous effects, and they are
favored particularly by children.
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared –
Two Owls and a hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!"
There was an Old Man who said, ‘Hush!
I perceived a young bird in this bush!’
When they said, ‘Is it small?’
He replied, ‘Not at all!
It is four times as big as the bush!’
(To be continued)