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Acrostic: Poetic Form

Posted

February 25, 2015

Type

Poetic Terms/Forms
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A form derived from the abecedarian is the acrostic, which spells out names or words through the first letter of each line. The intent of the acrostic is to reveal while attempting to conceal within the poem. William Blake addresses the despairs of the plague in the poem "London," telling the reader how he listens to everyone’s pain while wandering along the Thames River. Blake uses an acrostic in the third stanza to emphasize the horrifying sounds:

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

A recent example is Anna Rabinowitz’s Darkling. This book-length acrostic sequence investigates her family's Holocaust experiences and uses "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy for its structure.

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