6 Acrostics You May Not Have Noticed

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I rather enjoy word games. And chances are, if you're a flosser, you do too. Crosswords, jumbles, Hangman-type games"¦ they're all good. I can't finish a Friday New York Times crossword yet, but it gives me a goal.

In that spirit, I think I'm going to give acrostics a try. Acrostics are what you get when the first letter of each line of a written piece spells something out when you read it vertically. For instance:

Mental Floss is awesome;
Everyone thinks so, including my aunt and her
Niece and
The Grand Poobah from Ben and Jerry's
And Wil Wheaton (who doesn't love Wil Wheaton?).
Lots of stuff to make you feel smart again,
Facts to impress (or annoy) your friends and
Lunchtime quizzes to quench your noontime boredom.
Oh, I really hope you guys enjoyed this
Shameless plug by
Stacy

See? If you read the first letter of every line, it spells out "Mental Floss". But I didn't need to tell you that. Here's a look at six other acrostics"¦ some nicer than others. (Side note: I cannot type the word 'acrostic' without thinking of suburbia 'Agrestic' from the show Weeds)

1. Gordon Macdonald

Mr. Macdonald was a British politician; in fact, he was Newfoundland's last British governor. But there was no love lost between Macdonald and the people of Newfoundland. When the island joined Canada in 1949, Macdonald left pretty quickly. Just two days after he departed, a poem that appeared to be very flattering was published in the Newfoundland Evening Telegram:

The prayers of countless thousands sent
Heavenwards to speed thy safe return,
Ennobled as thou art with duty well performed,
Bringing peace, security and joy
Among the peoples of this New Found Land.
So saddened and depressed until your presence
Taught us discern and help decide what's best for
All on whom fortune had not smiled.
Remember if you will the kindness and the love
Devotion and the respect that we the people have for Thee
"“Farewell!

2. Het Wilhelmus

Het Wilhelmus is the national anthem of the Netherlands and is (arguably) the oldest national anthem in the world. It tells the story of William of Orange, Count of Nassau. Well, actually, William tells his own story "“ the song is written from his point of view. All of this is notable in its own right, but the anthem is also a famous acrostic. There are 15 stanzas to the song, and if you take the first letter of each stanza and put them together, it spells "Willem Van Nazzov". An English translation upholds the tradition by spelling out "William of Nassau". Since it's 15 stanzas, I'm not going to reprint it here, but feel free to check it out on Wikipedia.

3. An Acrostic by Edgar Allan Poe

poe
Poe didn't leave anything to chance when he wrote this poem "“ he wanted the reader to figure out it was an acrostic. Why, you ask? Because that's what he titled the poem "“ An Acrostic. It was reportedly written for his cousin and was not published until after his death.

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,
Breathe it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His folly — pride — and passion — for he died.

4. PETA's Prank

headstone
Colonel Sanders is probably rolling over in his grave at this acrostic located just a stone's throw away from his final resting place. At the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, PETA (legally) had a marker that appears to be a tribute to Harland Sanders himself. However, the acrostic spells out, "KFC tortures birds".

5. Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned"¦

This one may be not safe for work, but I had to include it.
The man who carved the epitaph into the gravestone said the wording was given to the monument maker jointly by the man's ex-wife and mistress - the 'friends' on the headstone who 'miss' him, apparently. He didn't realize the hidden message was there until after he had finished carving it. I'm going to go ahead and link you to Snopes on this one instead of posting the actual picture.

6. "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky", Lewis Carroll

alice
Should there be any doubt about who the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice books was, he spells it out for you "“ literally "“ in the last chapter of Through the Looking-Glass.

"A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky".
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.

Still she 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 a 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?

April 8, 2008 - 10:17am
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