An “acrostic poem” is a poem in which the first letter of each line — read vertically — spells out a word or a message.

The word “acrostic” comes from the Greek words “akros” (outermost) and “stichos” (line of verse). Usually, the word or message spelled out by the first letters of each line is the overall subject of the acrostic poem.

Here is an example of a simple acrostic poem:

Dedicated to me Always there when I need him
Deserves my love and respect!

Acrostic poems have been around for thousands of years. In fact, acrostic poems can be found among the works of ancient Greek and Latin writers, medieval monks and Renaissance poets.

An acrostic poem in which the initial letters spell out the alphabet is called an “abecedarius.” Interestingly, there are several abecedarian poems in the Bible (based on the Hebrew alphabet). Examples can be found in Psalm 119 and Lamentations.

You can also find more modern examples of acrostics. The final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass: And What Alice Found There contains a poem entitled “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky,” which turns out to be an acrostic of the real Alice’s name: Alice Pleasance Liddell.

The Dutch national anthem (“The William”) is also an acrostic, in which the first letters of its 15 stanzas spell Willem Van Nassov — one of the hereditary titles of William of Orange, who uses the poem to introduce himself to the Dutch people.

Although simple acrostic poems feature a word or message created by the first letter of each line of poetry, more adventurous poets have come up with double acrostics (words formed by the first and last letters of each line) and even triple acrostics (words formed by the first, middle and last letters of each line)!

 

15 Join the Discussion

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  1. Dear Wonderopolis, I love your website. It is really fun! I like it because I like to learn new things! I have a few questions for you. When were poems made? Who invented them and why’d they make them? Oh, and I missed the most important part…Happy late 1 b day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I wrote an acrostic poem! It was hard, because there were a lot of Os.
    Wacky
    Outstanding
    Never boring
    Different than any other
    Excellent
    Rocks!
    Oh, wow!
    Perfect!
    Oh, what an interesting article!
    Learning new things
    Is WONDERful
    Super awesome!

    • We have to say, that’s one of the most WONDERful acrostic poems we have ever read, Jamie! What makes it even MORE WONDERful is that it was written by one of our amazing Wonder Friends…YOU! Thank you for sharing your poem with us today! :-)

  3. Wonderopolis is
    Outstanding
    Neither boring nor
    Disfunctional, and
    Emmy
    Really
    Observes
    Pretty much
    Old
    Letters
    In
    Subway!!!!!! lol

    Btw, I added subway cause i love subway!! Do you guys like subway?

    • We think it ROCKS that you liked exploring this Wonder, Julie! Acrostic poems are a LOT of FUN to create! We like using our Wonder brains to think of cool ways to say things starting with each letter! Here’s one for YOU!

      Just plain AWESOME!
      Unique and Wonderful!
      Likes to visit Wonderopolis!
      Is very good at sharing comments with her Wonder Friends!
      Every comment she leaves us is AMAZING!
      :-)

  4. Thanks! That is really nice of you! :-) I got one just for you!
    Wonderopolis is
    Outstanding
    Never boring
    Different than any other website
    Educational
    Rocks!
    Oh, WONDERFUL
    Perfect site to learn at
    Oh,intresting wonder
    Learning new things
    Is the best way to learn
    Super exellent ;-)

    • That is one OUTSTANDING, WONDERful, SUPER, FANTASTIC acrostic poem, Julie! Thank you for taking the time to write it just for us! We appreciate your creativity! :-)

    • Hey Avery and Maya, thanks for sharing your comments with us! We are thrilled to know that you enjoyed our Wonder about acrostic poems– just in time for National Poetry Month! We Wonder if you have been writing poems of your own? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is an acrostic poem?
  • What is an abecedarius?
  • How do you write an acrostic poem?

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Try It Out

Acrostic poems are fun and easy to write. So what do you say? Ready to try your hand at one? You may be a poet who didn’t even know it!

Your acrostic poem can be about any subject. Once you think of something to write about, list the letters that spell out your word or message down the side of a page.

Then, for each letter, think of a word, phrase or sentence that starts with that letter and describes your subject. (Note: Younger children who cannot yet write well may need a friend or relative to help them get their thoughts down on paper.)

Acrostic poems are a good introduction to the world of poetry because budding acrostic writers aren’t burdened with a bunch of rules. Acrostic poems typically don’t rhyme, so you can concentrate on using adjectives and descriptive phrases that relate to your subject — without worrying about complicated rules regarding rhyme and meter.

If you need some inspiration, try using one or more of the following acrostic poem forms to help you get started:

If you feel like a real challenge, put your poetry skills to the test by writing your own original acrostic poem dedicated to Wonderopolis:

W
O
N
D
E
R
O
P
O
L
I
S

If you accept the challenge, we’d love to see what you write. Email or send a copy to:

Wonderopolis HQ
325 West Main Street, Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40202-4237

 

Still Wondering

Try out ReadWriteThink’s Acrostic Poems online tool to practice writing acrostic poems!

 

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