Writing Poetry: Acrostic

            Acrostic poems are on the docket for today’s Writing Poetry. These are poems that most of us learned to write in elementary school, usually using our names. Sometimes they can be boring, but sometimes they can be fun.

            The first letter of every line in an acrostic poem spells out a word or message. It doesn’t have any set rhyme scheme or meter, so it’s easy to just write out lines without caring too much about counting syllables. I’ll write a quick one using my name, just like in grade six. In this one, I’m going to pick a word for each letter of my name.








            I’ve always found describing myself to be hard, so I’ll give you another example using something other than my name.

Little moments of everyday tenderness,

Open ourselves up to the happiness

Vow that the little moments will grow and

Expand into ever-growing hopefulness.

            That one rhymed and everything. This one is a good example of a poem that talks about the words that the first letters of each line spell. I didn’t worry about making anything sound perfect, it’s more like a long sentence that’s broken up to spell the word. I love that acrostic poems give us the freedom to talk about anything without the restraints of meter and rhyme.

            The best example I can find is a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s called “An Acrostic”:

Elizabeth it is in vain you say

“Love not” – thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L.E.L

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breath it less gently forth – and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love – was cured of all beside –

His follie – pride – and passion – for he died.

            Though this poem is a bit more complex, some of them can be crazy. I won’t write any of them down here, but I recommend looking up more complex acrostic poems so that you get a better idea of those.

            I know that this was a post with a lot less substance than most of the other Writing Poetry posts, but acrostic poems are quite simple. If the first letter of each line makes some kind of word, message, or phrase, you’ve accomplished an acrostic poem!

            That will be all for today’s post. I’m hoping that a short post is better than no post at all. I’ll be getting back into things soon and I’ll be back with a book review on Thursday. Thank you for reading!




Allegory: A poem or story that can be interpreted to have a secondary or alternate meaning.

Allusion: An indirect reference to something. 

Alliteration: Close repetition of consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words.

Assonance: Close repetition of vowel sounds.

Consonance: Close repetition of consonant sounds anywhere in the words.

Couplet: Two-line stanza, usually a rhyming pair.

Dissonance: A disruption of the harmony of sounds within the poem or line.

Foot: A unit of measurement in a line of poetry.

Line: A unit of measurement. Made up of feet. 

Meter: The rhythmic measure of a line. Ex. Pentameter. 

Metaphor: Comparing one thing to another without using “like” or “as”. Direct comparison.

Repetition: Repeating specific words or phrases within a poem.

Rhyme: The repetition of similar-sounding words, usually at the ends of lines. There are many kinds of rhymes.

Rhythm: Rhythm comes from the patterns of short, long, stressed, and unstressed syllables in a line, stanza, or poem.

Refrain: The repetition of a line with a poem. 

Stanza: A group of lines that together make up a unit of measurement in a poem. Similar to a paragraph in prose writing and usually separated by a space.

Haiku: A three-line poem with a syllable count of 5-7-5.

Caesura: A word that shows a turn in a poem. Kireji in haikus.

Shakespearean Sonnet: Fourteen-line poem ending with a heroic/rhyming couplet. Rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Petrarchan Sonnet: Fourteen-line poem comprising an octave and a contrasting sestet. The octave has a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, and the sestet has a rhyme scheme of CDCDCD or CDECDE.

Heroic/Rhyming Couplet: Two lines of the same length that rhyme and complete a thought. The last words of both lines must rhyme out loud, but do not need to have the same end spelling.

Octave: Eight-line stanza with any rhyme scheme.

Sestet: Six-line stanza with any rhyme scheme.

Iambic: An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllabic that makes up a foot.

Pentameter: A line made up of five feet or beats.

Iambic Pentameter: Five pairs (or feet) of unstressed and stressed syllables. Normally found in sonnets. 

Acrostic Poem: A poem of any number of lines, any meter, and any rhyme where the first letters of each line spell out a word, phrase, or message.


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