Hidden, accidental and otherwise entertaining acrostics.
January 15, 2007 3:36 PM   Subscribe

Nicely crafted post; those are some obscure and fascinating poems. I like it.
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 3:50 PM on January 15, 2007

Don't forget perhaps the most amazing double acrostic of all time, Lewis Carroll's dedication in The Hunting of the Snark. He wrote the poem for one of his "child friends", Gertrude Chataway. The dedicatory poem describes the seaside where he met her and composed the Snark. It not only spells her name in the first letter of each line, but also produces is phonetically through the first words of each stanza.

The poem is as follows:


Girt with a boyish garb for boyish task,
Eager she wields her spade: yet loves as well
Rest on a friendly knee, intent to ask
The tale he loves to tell.

Rude spirits of the seething outer strife,
Unmeet to read her pure and simple spright,
Deem, if you list, such hours a waste of life,
Empty of all delight!

Chat on, sweet Maid, and rescue from annoy
Hearts that by wiser talk are unbeguiled.
Ah, happy he who owns that tenderest joy,
The heart-love of a child!

Away, fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more!
Work claims my wakeful nights, my busy days-
Albeit bright memories of that sunlit shore
Yet haunt my dreaming gaze!
posted by The Bellman at 3:52 PM on January 15, 2007 [4 favorites]

posted by roll truck roll at 3:52 PM on January 15, 2007

(And yes, that's where my name comes from.)
posted by The Bellman at 3:53 PM on January 15, 2007

Oh wow, wonderful addition The Bellman, thanks. I know that when I decide to build a post around a random idea that pops in my head I'm treading on thin ice if I really don't know too much about the subject; but how I could have missed such a stellar one is beyond my reasoning.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:59 PM on January 15, 2007

The Betjeman one is a heartwarming example of a proper, old-fashioned feud (Hillier later admitted writing the letter to embarrass Wilson).
posted by matthewr at 4:04 PM on January 15, 2007

I love things like this. Great post gnfti, and thanks for the Lewis Carroll The Bellman.
posted by ob at 4:07 PM on January 15, 2007

[These highly intimate schemes inspire smiles, guffaws, or other delights.]
posted by Sand Reckoner at 4:11 PM on January 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

Nice one Sand Reckoner.
Thanks gnfti. Love acrostics!
posted by Cranberry at 4:25 PM on January 15, 2007

This day was nearly done and spent
Having come and gonely went
In directions dark and
Snarky. Where

Islands in the nettle patch
Stung the frumious bandersnatch with much malarky.

Good news for the insane, at least-
On deedly words we greedily feast
Oblivious to the falling night, and toast the Muse and
Damn the failing of the light.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:43 PM on January 15, 2007 [8 favorites]

Now they remind me of my time at school
I recall being set the task of drawing an animal
Carefully sketching a whale
Eraser working overtime on the illustration
Pursed lips in concentration
Obsessing over each letter - but my eight year old's vocabulary was too
Slender and
They, like they still do now, always tuned out shit:

posted by meech at 4:44 PM on January 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by meech at 4:45 PM on January 15, 2007

Carroll also wrote another for Alice Liddell (The "original" Alice from "...Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass"):

Epilogue to Through the Looking-Glass

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.

She still 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 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?

I've heard this sung quite beautifully by some acapella choir, but I can't for the life of me find the disc or remember the name of the choir (The Fourteen? The Twelve?... something like that) or the composer.
And thank you for a great post.
posted by bunglin jones at 4:51 PM on January 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Great post! I was going to try and do one of those comments buuut I can see that many have beat me to it.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:06 PM on January 15, 2007

Sometimes I make these with my kids
usually they are better than me
perhaps, younger versions of me
every bit as clever
reasonably good looking too.
posted by winks007 at 5:09 PM on January 15, 2007

Sons of Columbia, awake, arise!

The acrostic poem that got Rolfe Humphries banned from Poetry magazine. (Self-link, but the poem and explanation are too long to make what I consider a decent comment.)
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on January 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Oh, almost forgot: great post!

/too lazy to make cute acrostic
posted by languagehat at 5:27 PM on January 15, 2007

Sweet, senor sprachchapeau, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:28 PM on January 15, 2007

This is a great post! I never realized acrostics had such a history... I only wish the acrostics in my Dell puzzle magazines were as creative and funny.
posted by amyms at 6:23 PM on January 15, 2007

Great stuff, gnfti, but every true Europantophone knows that 'hat's username is properly rendered as tonguetopper.
posted by rob511 at 6:52 PM on January 15, 2007

Nice post. My favourite use of literary/religious acrostic is by Cynewulf, who was one sneaky Anglo-Saxon.
posted by zamboni at 8:48 PM on January 15, 2007

A Danish art group targeted Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad last month by placing an ad in a Tehran newspaper with a hidden message: Swine
posted by growabrain at 8:51 PM on January 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I especially like it if authors use them to put little digs or hidden messages in their texts that you only notice if you look closely for unusual wordings or stilted phrases; for instance, Cordwainer Smith put "kennedy shot" and "oswald shot too" in The Quest of Three Worlds. Oh, and the eternal classic Gödel, Escher, Bach is also a very interesting read on acrostics.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:17 AM on January 16, 2007

here's one on a gravestone.
posted by kev23f at 5:16 AM on January 16, 2007

Dude, check out the "tragic" link in the post. Always helps to RTFA.
posted by languagehat at 5:32 AM on January 16, 2007

dude, my bad, mucho apologies to those who ended up visiting the site twice.
posted by kev23f at 5:22 AM on January 23, 2007

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