Mammoth Memory

Acrostic poem – name, word or phrase going down a poem

An acrostic poem contains certain letters in each line that, when read downwards, spell out a word, phrase or name.

Typically, the first letters of each line are used to spell the word(s), but the letters may actually appear anywhere in the line, and they are capitalised.

An acrostic poem spells out a word when being read 

A cross tick (acrostic) is not cross, it’s just down.

How to write an acrostic poem:

1.  Decide what you want to write about

2.  Write the word vertically

3.  Think of words that relate to it


Each line can be as long or as short as you like, and they don’t have to rhyme – but can if you want them to. 

Example 1

  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,

  Breathe it less gently forth – and veil thine eyes.

  Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

  To cure his love – was cured of all beside –

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

Edgar Allan Poe, An Acrostic

The initial letters of each line of Poe’s poem spell out the name “Elizabeth”


L.E.L. is Letitia Elizabeth Landon, a popular early 19th century English poetess who signed her poems with those initials. Zantippe is actually Xanthippe, wife of Greek philosopher Socrates, known for her quick temper, which taught Socrates patience.


Example 2

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear

Long has paled that sunny sky;
Echoes fade and memories die;
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;

Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?

Lewis Carroll, Life is But a Dream

The initial letters of each line of Carroll’s poem spell out the name “ALICE PLEASANCE LIDDELL” – the name of the girl who was the inspiration for his books “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass”.


Example 3

From the King James version of The Bible:

These things I have sPoken unto you

                that in me yE might have peace.

     In the world ye shAll have tribulations,

          but be of good Cheer;

          I have overcomE the world.

                                                           John 16: 33


                  For God so Loved the world

        that he gave his Only begotten son

that whosoever belieVeth in Him shall not perish

                     but have Everlasting life.

                                                         John 3: 16

More Info