Hello everyone. Welcome back to #theorythursday.
I bought myself The Complete Illustrated Works of Lewis Carroll a few weeks ago. It is a beautiful book and I’m so happy to have it on my classics shelf.
The illustrations were done by John Tenniel and I would argue that his illustrations are just as iconic as Carroll’s writing.
I have a framed drawing of Alice sitting at the Hatter’s tea party and I would suggest that this image is one of the book’s most recognised images, alongside the image of Alice standing before the Cheshire Cat as he peers down at her from his tree.
The book features Carroll’s stories, verses, comic writing, puzzles and acrostics. I have really enjoyed reading the acrostic poems in this book so I have decided that today I would talk about acrostic verse. Let’s dive in.
What is an acrostic poem?
An acrostic poem is a poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a word.
The first letter of each line might spell out a name, a message, a word, or sometimes even the alphabet.
Here’s an example of an acrostic poem in which the first letter of each line spells a word.
(Brief disclaimer – I am making up this example myself, and I will not claim to be a poet, however I like to create my own examples when I am explaining things.)
Summer is on its way. We will sit in the sun.
Under the trees, in the shade, we will talk, laugh, drink, and smile.
Nothing will ruin our days, we will be happy, wild, and stress free. Summer is on its way.
The first letter of each line spells the word sun.
There are different types of acrostic poems.
Usually the first letter of each line is what spells out the message; however, the letters can be found anywhere in the poem so it becomes almost like reading a code. The letters will always be capitalised and sometimes they can be found at the end of a line or in different places in a line.
Here’s another made up example.
In summer, the air is sweet and people are Kinder.
In summer, the Air is hot and as we walk the beach the breeze is filled with salt from the sea.
In summer, we Talk all night because it does not matter how much or how little we sleep.
In summer, everyonE smiles a little brighter and laughs a little louder.
If you look at this example I made up, you’ll see that I’ve spelled my name as the letters I’ve chosen to highlight spell Kate.
Why is it important to learn about acrostic verse?
I think that an acrostic poem is a really fun poem to learn about. I always say that the more you know, the more you understand, and the more you understand, the more you enjoy something so I think that learning about acrostic verse simply widens one’s knowledge of literature and literary forms, but I also think that learning about acrostics is just fun. It is a creative form as you have to think carefully about how you’ll phrase certain things and where you will place your letters in order to spell out your chosen name, word, or message. I think it is really interesting to be able to read in the code that an acrostic verse creates as if you didn’t know why these seemingly random letters were capitalised then you could miss out. I think that knowing about acrostics and how they work can add to your enjoyment when it comes to reading the works of someone like Carroll because the writing is whimsical and nonsensical and this use of acrostic only adds to that.
I hope you enjoyed today’s Theory Thursday discussion. I really enjoyed writing it. If you have any questions then please do let me know.
Happy Friday Eve everyone.