Acrostic Poem – Shouting at the past

An acrostic poem is a poetic form that has been in use since accent Greek times from around 1500 BC.

In a simple acrostic, the first letters of each line spell out a phrase or single word. We usually associate the word or phrase with the underling topic of the poem.

Usually, the first letter of each line is used to form the acrostic. This makes it easier to see the word spelled out vertically down the page. Other simple acrostics use the last letter of each line, both the first and last letter of each line, or a letter from the middle of each line. A double acrostic will have a run of two letters in each line forming either the same word acrostic or a set of words forming an acrostic phrase.

Here Benbo Smith uses a double acrostic poem to discuss the loss of hearing. The word used is S.I.L.E.N.C.E. It’s easy to make out the acrostic, starting with the first letter of each line of the poem. Work just a little harder to see the form used in the middle of the lines of poetry.

Shouting at the past

Shouting at the past silent with rage,

Infirmly yearning to indifference ones self.

Listen to yesterday’s lust for life,

Enabling my joy extruded from the past.

Now forever excluded not knowing sweet whispers,

Constant thoughts of concertos and dance.

Ex-hearing overwhelming my day, enduring not the silence.

In William Blake’s London, the acrostic, H.E.A.R is used to empathise the soundscape of London in Blake’s time. Look closely at the third stanza and the last word of the second stanza.

Acrostic poetry form used in William Blake's poem London. The image contains the poem and a print by William Blake.

Poems – Shouting at the past by Benbo Smith, February 2021, London by William Blake.

Image/Video – “Old man thinking of problems”, licensed for Prose and Poetry by Splashlime via adobe stock. 

Further readingAcrostic definition on Wikipedia. Benbo Smith on this site.