Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday Poetry Forms (Poetry for Dummies) Week 19

Mere days to go until Christmas and CC Champagne is back to try to take your mind off the preparations (for those of you who celebrate) with another dive into the deep blue ocean that is poetry forms.

For me palm trees and turquoise seas are beckoning, but a quick look at acrostic poetry is always fun. An acrostic is a poem where you can read more than just the words as they are written. According to trusty old Wikipedia, an acrostic is 'a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message'. So it is a little bit of a riddle, a very simplistic cipher if you will, and it can also be a form of crossword puzzles! Feel like doing a bit of detective work this Christmas?

Acrostics (or should I call them poems?) occurs in religious writing (in this case Judaism), in the Book of Lamentations, Book of Proverbs and a whole number of psalms, which means we are dealing with an old poetry form (they don't take on new texts to the Hebrew Bible, I have been told). Originally the word acrostics comes from Greek, means 'top verse' and if we are to remain for a moment in the religious sphere, the referrals to fish in association with Jesus and the Christian faith has nothing to do with his purported ability to walk on water (don't laugh, I really have thought that my whole life!), but actually stems from a famous ancient Greek acrostic where the initials of an acclamation concerning Jesus Christ, his ancestry and purpose spelled out the Greek word fish... And for some (strange?) reason it has become synonymous with the Jesus and his religion and is used as a sign for its believers.

So, I am not here to debate religion with you. I really would prefer not to, but I thought these tidbits of information might be interesting, especially since we are getting ready to celebrate the 2000th-something birthday of Jesus. On a more secular note, acrostics can also be used as mnemonic devises, assisting memory of for example the name of planets in our solar system, or to - as so elegantly shown by Edgar Allan Poe - spell out the name of your love:

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, whe

Luna tried

To cure his love — was cured

of all beside —

His follie — pride — and 

passion — for he died.

(Edgar Allan Poe, An Acrostic)

Wikipedia also mentions a more modern acrostic in which the Manager of one of the large international IT companies, in a memo sent out to his subordinates, hid an acrostic that spelled out 'Beat IBM'. True? I don't know, but kind of fun in any case.

If you want to make your life more complicated (and why not?), you can always attempt the double acrostic where not just the first letter of the first word on every line spells out a message, but the last letter on every line too... That should give you something to sharpen your poetic claws on over Christmas. Me, I am off to the beach! *smile*

Feel like you want to share an acrostic (or any other poetry) with us? Please join us at the Gooseberry Gardens Poetry Picnic, where the theme for Week 18 is Snow, December, Winter, Vacation and Wildness. I shall return in a week with some other interesting nugget of gold from the mine of poetry forms.

I raise my glass to you and wish you all a Very Berry Christmas!



Jingle Poetry At The Gooseberry Garden said...

love this, wow.

Rinkly Rimes said...

A little jaded but not very.

Summer said...

amazing form,...

kaykuala said...

Interesting Kay! Take a lot of water to avoid being down with fever. Merry Christmas!


~L said...

:( I am trying to post a comment and it wont let me for some reason.. but this poem to me was so amazing that I can't just not share it with the Author:) so here it is if somehow we can get it their way:)

my comment to:

stunning! the words are so heart stricken... and the creativity with the pictures.... this post was a five star for me!!!