A Short Analysis of Adelaide Crapsey’s ‘Amaze’

Interesting Literature

A reading of a short modern poem

The American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914) is not much remembered now, but she left one mini poetic legacy: a new form she called the cinquain. ‘Cinquain’ had existed as a word before her miniature verse innovation, but Crapsey co-opted it to describe the five-line unrhymed form which she used in her finest poetry. ‘Amaze’, which is reproduced below, is an example of Crapsey’s cinquains – and perhaps her most famous poem.

Amaze

I know
Not these my hands
And yet I think there was
A woman like me once had hands
Like these.

Although this looks like free verse – the vers libre that T. E. Hulme and Ezra Pound, over in London, were beginning to experiment with at around the same time – Crapsey’s cinquains do actually follow a strict pattern. The first line must contain one beat, the second two…

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