Acrostic characteristics structure and examples


An acrostic is a poem that has the peculiarity that the first letters of words in certain positions offer a “hidden” message. They can be the initial, intermediate or final. Acrostic characteristics structure and examples

By reading these letters in the sense in which the author of the acrostic suggests, the message appears. The direction indicated, in most cases, is vertical.

The etymological origin of the acrostic term is Greek. The genesis of this poetic composition are the words akros (end) and stikhos  ( verse ). The poems of the Provencal troubadours (writers in the Occitan language, European Romance language) are recorded as the first acrostics. These later inspired the Castilian poets.

The acrostic had its golden stage in the Middle Ages . The elaborate forms of writing typical of the Baroque style attracted the readers of that time. For them, trying to define the relatively hidden message in the poem was a kind of entertainment.

Among the most famous acrostics is the one written by Fernando de Rojas (1465/73 AD-1541 AD) in his prologue to La Celestina (1499). More recently, José Antonio Balbontín (1893 AD-1977 AD) became famous by writing an acrostic verse dedicated to the Spanish ruler Primo de Rivera. The secret message was “Cousin is drunk.”


Written medium

The writing of an acrostic is exclusively written. The poet writes in the first instance for a reading public.

Although in recent times, with the advancement of communications, they have been disseminated by other different means, there has never been the case of an acrostic poem disseminated verbally due to the difficulty of finding the word message in this way.


In acrostic poems, the first letter of each line is often capitalized (beginning of a new sentence). In this way, it is easier for the reader to keep track of the theme of the poem. This technique, in the same way, helps to improve your visual presentation. Acrostic characteristics structure and examples

Rhyme not necessary

The acrostic poem does not necessarily have to rhyme. This makes them a kind of free poetry. In this way the poet can elaborate works of short lines and long lines at his convenience.

Sometimes a line can even be made up of a single word. Thus, there is no set standard for the lengths of acrostic lines.

Unlimited themes

The subjects on which an acrostic poem can be treated are as limitless as any other literary writing. The difference is that the subject must be able to be summarized in a word or short phrase that is the one that appears written vertically.

Very often, poets make themes of acrostic poetry of themselves or of people close to them. In these cases, each letter of the person’s name can be used to initiate a description of one of their characteristic features.

Varied types

Broadly speaking, the type and shape of the acrostic is varied depending on the author and the preferences of its readers. However, there are some that have already become common.

For example, if the message appears at the beginning of the verse it is of the traditional or typical type. If it is in the middle of the line, it is a mesotic acrostic.

The tenletic type have it at the end. There are also those of the double type, those where both the first and last letters of each line form the message.

In some cases the acrostic is used to write poems of the alphabet. An alphabet poem is a special form of acrostic known as an Abecedearian acrostic.

These poems spell out the alphabet sequentially, beginning with A and ending with Z. In some cases, they do not spell out the entire alphabet, but simply a section of it.

Artistic and utilitarian style

From its inception, the acrostic was used to convey information in an artistic way. Thus, for example, The Eritrean Sibyl’s Prophecies were written on sheets and arranged so that the initial letters formed a word.

The Latin playwrights Ennuis (239 BC-169 BC) and Plautus (254 BC-184 BC) were noted for writing acrostics. Also, other famous poets, such as Edgar Allan Poe and David Mason, were well known for incorporating the acrostic technique into their works.

In addition, acrostics have been used as a technique to facilitate the memorization of information. In the same way, they are extremely useful for sending encrypted messages and for entertainment. Finally, through them the creative capacity of the author is demonstrated who expresses his emotional charge. Acrostic characteristics structure and examples

Standardized structure

The structure of an acrostic is standardized. Being of written origin, the meaning of its writing is horizontal. The poet decides the position of the letters that make up the poem. At this level, the writer already knows if the letters to use will be the first of each line, the middle or the end.

The vertical line formed by the letters of the hidden message is the initial step in the development of the acrostic. Then the author fills in all the lines of the verse with phrases or sentences.

This part of the structure should make both logical and artistic sense. This structural part must be full of sensory load because it is a poem.

The most common way to construct them is to make the first letter of the first word of each line the one that makes up the message. Variations can be given in which the acrostic word is made up of the first and last letters of each line. This way you get a longer message.

Poems that are 14 lines long are often written. This makes it possible to make 14-letter messages in the case of the first letters or the last letters of the lines. They can also be 28-letter messages in the case of combinations of the first and last letters of each line.

Examples of acrostics

The following are examples of acrostics (follow the bold letters).

Acrostic acrostic :

  • a playful re
  • c ontrivances of prose or verse
  • r ordered so that each line
  • or pens or closes with words in
  • s equence to read from
  • t op to the bottom, your
  • i initial or final letters
  • c onstituting a word or phrase.

The acrostic of John Keats

  • G ive me your patience, sister while I frame
  • E xact name capitalized gold;
  • Or sue the beautiful Apollo and him
  • I rouse from your heavy sleep and instill
  • Great love in me for you and Poetry.
  • I do not imagine that the greatest domain
  • And kingdom over all kingdoms of verse, Acrostic characteristics structure and examples
  • No more ears to heaven in nothing, than when we breastfeed
  • And the surety gives love and the Brotherhood.

We hope you have understood the acrostic with examples.

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