Acrostic Poem: What is it, Examples, and How to Write Them

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With its ability to encapsulate emotions, stories, and messages in a condensed form, poetry has captivated hearts for centuries. Within the vast landscape of poetic expression, acrostic poems stand out as a unique and creative subset.

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the definition, examples, and the art of writing acrostic poems.

What is an Acrostic Poem?

Acrostic poems have a rich history, originating from ancient Greece. The term “acrostic” itself is derived from the Greek words “akros” (meaning ‘topmost’ or ‘end’) and “stichos” (meaning ‘line’). An acrostic poem is characterized by using the initial letters or words of each line to spell out a message or theme. This distinctive feature sets acrostic poems apart from other poetic forms, adding a layer of complexity and intrigue.

The significance of acrostic poems is their ability to offer a hidden layer of meaning. Poets employ this form to convey messages subtly, allowing readers to unravel hidden truths as they explore the verses.

Acrostic Poem Examples

Let’s explore historical and contemporary examples to truly appreciate the art of acrostic poems. Ancient poets, including those from the Hebrew Bible, often used acrostic structures. For instance, the book of Psalms contains multiple acrostic compositions, showcasing the enduring nature of this form. Take Edgar Allan Poe’s “Elizabeth,” where each letter unfolds a tale of love and loss.

Similarly, contemporary poets experiment with themes ranging from nature to social commentary, highlighting the versatility of acrostic poetry. Enjoy the acrostic poem below by Rachel Wylie (@the_paranoid_writer on Instagram), spelling our SURVIVING.

A Piece About Survival, by Rachel Wylie

Surviving the lines, they told me I was destined to fail
Utilizing these skills, I was forced to master
Revitalizing my lungs after they left my cries on mute
Visualizing a new dimension of peace

I believe I can find the tranquility in it all.

Vibrations of neglected negative energy
Invigorate a shattered need to prosper
Never-ending gauntlets of obstacles
Give my fire the fuel to aspire.

Our Editor’s Take

I love this piece by Wylie. Each line tells a story, and reinforces the chosen word focus of “surviving.” The final line also represents a great turn in the piece, turning the fuel into fire and empowering the narrator. BIG LOVE. – R. R. Noall

An Acrostic, by Edgar Allen Poe

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.

Our Editor’s Take

Poe’s acrostic poem spells out the name ELIZABETH. An acrostic poem doesn’t just have to be thematically driven, but can describe a person’s attributes or your relationship with them. – R. R. Noall

How to Write an Acrostic Poem

Want to write your own acrostic poem? Follow these steps to unlock your creativity:

  1. Choose a Theme or Word: Select a theme or word that resonates with you. This will be the foundation of your acrostic poem.
  2. Select Appropriate Words: For each letter of your chosen theme or word, brainstorm words or phrases that capture its essence.
  3. Craft Your Poetic Lines: Weave these words into poetic lines, ensuring a seamless flow that conveys the chosen theme.

Enhance your acrostic poems by playing with language, experimenting with different formats, and incorporating vivid imagery. Avoid common pitfalls, such as forced words or disjointed themes, to maintain the fluidity of your creation.

Here’s our examples of how to write an acrostic poem:

Chosen word: GATHER

The poem will be six lines long, with each line beginning with a letter, spelling out GATHER if you move vertically down the poems left-most side.

The word GATHER brings up themes of community, eating in a group, family, home, which we will integrate into the poem below.

Going to a place where we find peace

All of us together, loving the fire light on the wall.

There is always a spot to sleep here.

Habits will form and pass on to our children.

Ever welcoming new faces and friends.

Reaching for love in safe spaces.

Acrostic Poem FAQs

Do acrostic poems have to rhyme?

Acrostic poems do not need to rhyme. Other than choosing a word, and therefore letter, to start each line of your poem with, acrostic poetry is a very accessible and easy form of poetry to learn and write.

What is the main idea of an acrostic poem?

The main idea of an acrostic poem is to capture the word or you’ve select as your initial letter for the start of each line. Using the individual poetic lines to get this theme across is the fun (and challenging) part.


As we conclude our exploration of acrostic poems, we invite you to embrace this unique form of poetic expression. Whether you are an aspiring poet or a poetry enthusiast, acrostic poems offer a canvas to weave words into hidden narratives. The allure of acrostic poetry persists through the ages, and now, armed with knowledge, you can embark on your own poetic odyssey, unraveling the magic within each line.

Want to share an acrostic poem with us? Submit your poetry to our magazine.

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