Acrostic writing has a long historical record.
Acrostic is a
Greek word; acros
means outermost and
means line of poetry. In an acrostic writing the first letters of each
successive line spells names, words, phrases, or even sentences.
Sometimes writers applied this technique to the last letter of every
line; this device is called a
Writings in which the author spells out a message
using the middle letters to form the message is called a
use two of these arrangements, first and end, or first and middle; this
kind of writing is called a
The acrostic has been adapted in unique
ways. Edgar Allan Poe used an acrostic form in some of his sonnets and
other poems where the first letter of the first line, the second letter
of the second line, the third letter of the third line, etc., form the
full name of some of his female admirers. This is called a
Acrostic writing was used
by early Greek and Latin writers as well as monks in the middle ages.
Examples of acrostic writing can be found in many languages and cultures
and have been used in every century.
The oldest example of
writing using the initial letters to spell
out a whole sentence dates from ca. 1000 B.C.; these seven Babylonian
texts use the first syllable of each ideogram to form the acrostic.
Acrostics are often
combined with other writing forms; one example in this issue combines the acrostic with a riddle. Both the title and text of the
poem suggest some clues to help the reader identify the riddle.
The following acrostic
poems listed below demonstrate some fascinating uses of language.