The acrostic is a text form based on the fact that the initial letters or the first words or syllables of successive verses or verses form a word, a sentence or a sense unit. In principle, the acrostic can appear in texts of every literary genre, but we encounter it mainly in lyric or songs. Sometimes, however, the acrostic can also be used and understood as a rhetorical stylistic device.
Often, Akrosticha are used in elementary German language teaching in order to gain access to creative writing. The pupils are asked to prepare acrosticha for specific themes (autumn, holidays, school) and thus write simple poems or rhymes. Similarly, Haikus and Elfchen are used in teaching.
Note: The term is derived from the Greek and is a composition of ‘ákros’ and ‘stíchos’, which means roughly ‘peak’ and ‘verse’. Acrostichon can thus be translated with the tip of the verse. The translation thus clearly reveals what is at stake.
Example of acrostichone based on initial letters
Words, German and syllabus,
Which always increases.
T oll formulate.
It is important, however,
U rinstinkt and commas.
C hiasms or parentheses,
H yperbata and antitheses
S ind of the poet’s silent honors.
The above example for the acrostichon we have briefly written ourselves. The content of the verse is almost irrelevant, since it is basically the initial letters of the individual verses, which reproduce an independent word: namely, the word growth, the name of this website.
Note: The majority (plural) of the style figure is, by the way, expressed by the word acrosticha and not, as is often assumed, expressed by acrostichi or acrostichons.
Acrosticha, abecedaries and acronyms
The acrostichon resembles other text forms and literary phenomena, which is why it is often misnamed. To exclude this, we would like to introduce similar forms.
Abecedarium: is a text structured according to the alphabet. This means that the beginnings of verses, verses, or chapters are reproducing the sequence of the individual letters of the alphabet.
Acronym: is an abbreviation or a short word that consists of the initial letters of several words, such as computer, truck or UFO (unknown flight object).
Mesostichon: means a sequence of letters, which, read vertically, yields a sentence or a word. The difference to the acrostic is that the initial letters are not used, but the second, third letter, etc., form the sense unit
Telestichon: basically describes a similar sequence as mesostichon and acrostichon. However, the last letters, words or final syllables result in the respective sentence.
Akroteleuton: is the compound of mesostichon and acrostichon or also the use of several acrosticha. Here both the beginnings as well as the ends or the first letters of the last word of the lines of a text result in succession and vertically read a sentence, a word or a sense unit. The styling is often found in baroque style.
Acrosticha as steganography
Acrosticha are not only important as a text form or style, but as a means of steganography. Steganography refers to the transfer of information in a carrier medium. The lyrics were encrypted using the acrostic.
The principle of steganography is based on the fact that an outsider does not know that this is a steganographed message. Thus, when the recipient of the message is clear how to decrypt it, an acrostic can serve as a transport medium for secret messages.
Note: Of course, all possible combinations of acrosticha, acroleutone, telesticha and mesosticha are conceivable. It is only important here that the respective reading is known to the receiver.
Further examples of the acrostichone
It is, of course, best to illustrate these special forms of text design by clear examples. Therefore we would like to present three examples for the acrostic.
I have O God of Hertzen grund /
Offtimes, the blessed soul.
Hie from the death body my /
To be separated and to be with you.
According to your word I am worth /
No, I’ve got my hertz.
I am rescued from all the necessity /
Sanfft I rested in you my God /
Do not hold back the opinion!
From the heart to the world
Be confident in appearance
Come what they like.
Punish boldly the spiritual cave,
Get to the truth hoard!
Everything serves the state for the sake of the welfare,
And with us the slogan is:
Light and air the free word!
The above example is a poem by John