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How do you write an acrostic poem?

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Quick Answer

Write an acrostic poem by first deciding on a word or phrase to spell out vertically using the first or last letters of each line in the poem. A less common acrostic pattern is to spell something using a different letter than the first or last.

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Full Answer

After deciding on a word or phrase the letters of each line is to spell out, begin composing each line. There is no formal requirement for the lines of an acrostic poem to rhyme. An example of this format is to make a poem using the word "acrostic." The first line may read, "An acrostic poem," the next line may read, "creates a challenge," and so on, until the word "acrostic" has been spelled out using the first letter of each line.

The word "acrostic" derives from "akros," which means "at the end," and "stichos," which means "line." The word was first used to describe the poetry of Sibyl the Erythraean. These poems were prophecies written on leaves and arranged so that first letters of each leaf formed a word. Acrostic poetry was common during the Greek and Alexandrine periods and select Latin playwrights. The poetry was made popular again during Germany's Middle High period and the Italian Renaissance by Medieval poets and monks.

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