Acrostic Poetry

Introduction and Description

Acrostics are one of the more commonly known poetry types--I was taught to write on of these in pre-school. For specific details on how they are written, see Shadow Poetry, Young Writers, or Poets.org.
Amazingly this form of poetry dates all the way back to at least biblical times. Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145, part of Lamentations, as well as Proverbs 31:10-31 are acrostics (in Hebrew of course). More advanced versions of the acrostic can be produced by adding hidden words else where in the poem as well, such as at the end of the line or in the middle of the line. A particularly complex example can be seen in "Behold, O God!" by William Browne.

My Tips, Tricks, & Opinions

Feel free to comment below with your opinions and/or questions about this style.

Achieve the Unique

The coolest part of acrostic poems is the ability to hide messages within a message. Playing around with where the message is contained, doubling messages (such as repeated a word or phrase via both the first and last letters of a line) can be both fun and rewarding. Using more complex structures allows for more intricacy and deeper meanings in your poems.

But Lookout For...

The tricky part of acrostic poems--for me of course--is making sure the poem doesn't sound or feel juvenile. Often I find myself needing to use unnecessary words to maintain the structure or breaking lines at awkward places to ensure the next line starts with the correct word. It's probably best to stay away from words that contain letters which are hard to find at the beginning of words (like X). Including letters like this make it difficult to maintain the natural flow of the poem.

Why I Like It

Acrostic poems remind me of my childhood. The combination of their simplicity mixed with the possibilities for more complex poems represents the journey of growth in poetry to me. This translates in to the deeper meaning of the poem. I also love seeing people's reactions when they realize (usually they have to be told) that there is a message or a word spelled out within the poem. It's like a secret or a present for the readers who know to look.

Examples

Simple Example

Fun (June 5, 2014)

Future events waiting for
Us to explore
Non-stop, never-ending joy

Alphabetical Acrostic Example

A Thought (October 28, 2005)

Above all things in the world,
Beneath the hardships and pains of a girl,
Caress the tears that fall aside
Deep in the craters of a hard life.
Earn every step that you take, because
     Frauds only add to the heartbreak--
     Granted, there are no shortcuts--
Handle things with heart and soul, for
Idle minds never reach their goal.
     Justice waits for those it seeks,
     Knee-deep in the pressures of each week.
          Love the speckled wonders of the sky,
          Mirror their glitter in your eye--
Notice the things around you, and
Openly confess the things you do.
     Persevere when all is lost,
Quitters are left with only cost
          Remember me, my fae, my struggles, my fears
     Sing softly into my listening ears,
          Tell me your secrets, joys and pains
Understand my need to break free of these chains.
Value me, no matter the cause
     Without question, without thought or pause.
          X-rays of feelings will emerge
               Yearning hate and fear to surge
                    Zealously crying out their soft dirge.

References

  1. Ken Nesbitt. "How to Write an Acrostic Poem". Poetry 4 Kids; visited 2014
  2. Jonathan Went. "Studies on the Hebrew Alphabet: Acrostics". Biblical Hebrew; visited 2014
  3. Larry Nelson. "Psalms Chapter 119". Mechon Mamre; visited 2014
  4. Michael D. Marlowe. "Acrostics in the Hebrew Bible". Bible Research; visited 2014
  5. William Browne. "Behold, O God!". Wikipedia; visited 2014

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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