A Cinquain for Adelaide Crapsey









A Cinquain for Adelaide Crapsey

She wrote
of moons, white moths,
cold winds and silences,
counting down the few syllables
she had.


This is what happens when you wander–from crocuses, to tulips, to cinquains, to Adelaide Crapsey. As I mentioned yesterday, Adelaide Crapsey invented the cinquain. The more I learn about her, the more compelling I find her. When I realized I wanted to write about her, it seemed only right to use her form. Crapsey was a poet, scholar, and teacher who died at 36, after living for three years with tuberculosis and knowing it would ultimately kill her. At one point she convalesced in a sanatorium where her window overlooked a cemetery. I wonder if living with an awareness of her limited days gave her insight into the ways that limits push us. Is this what inspired her to invent a form with its own challenging, and hopefully inspiring, limits?

Tomorrow I’ll be adding to this year’s Progressive Poem. See you then.


13 replies
  1. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    How beautiful she is. I didn’t know about her tragic, but have introduced the form and her poem to many students through the years. I should have researched her further! Thanks, Liz, I like that you wrote such a loving poem for Adelaide Crapsey. Good friends have a daughter named Adelaide, a favorite name!

  2. Tabatha
    Tabatha says:

    I love that you wrote a cinquain in her honor! Yay, Liz 🙂 I posted an excerpt of her “To The Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window” a while back. She asks, “Have you no rebellion in your bones?” I’m sorry that even with her fighting spirit, she still had a tragic ending. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Liz Steinglass
      Liz Steinglass says:

      Oh wow. I have to go find that poem. I find her very interesting. I’m curious too to read her metrical analyses.

  3. Geri
    Geri says:

    Liz- thank you so much for sharing your beautiful poetry/confusing and introducing me somewhat to the world of Adelaide Crapsey. I am not at all familiar with her and now my curiousity has indeed peaked. Her beauty emanates in this portrait while in reality she deals with horrific circumstances…keep going Liz!!

  4. Liz Steinglass
    Liz Steinglass says:

    Thanks so much everyone. I find her so intriguing. I’ve been wanting to write about her for a long time.


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