• An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase. 
  • Acrostics are common in medieval literature.
  • It is most frequent in verse works but can also appear in prose. 
  • In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, the final chapter “A Boat, Beneath A Sunny Sky is an acrostic of the real Alice’s name: Alice Pleasance Liddell.                             

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July –

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear – 

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.                                        

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.                                           

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Ever drifting down the stream –
Lingering in the golden gleam –
Life, what is it but a dream?                    

  • A less common and slightly more difficult type of an acrostic poem is where the last letter of each line spells out the word or phrase.
  • The more difficult type is where letters in the middle of the acrostic spell out the word or phrase.
  • The term is derived from the Greek words akros, “at the end,” and stichos, “line,” or “verse.”
  • An example of an acrostic written by the popular Edgar Allan Poe was found in his cousin Elizabeth Herring’s album.
  • Another example Vladimir Nabokov’s short story “The Vane Sisters” .
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