Acrostics of Self-Inscription by Women Poets of the Romantic Age

1. An Acrostic on My Name; written at the age of sixteen

Evening comes with thy calm breezes,

Lively lambkins skipping there;

In the fields how sweet the grass is,

Zephyrs fan the fragrant air.

Auburn foliage darkly waving,

Blushing crimson tints the sky,

Evening hour of contemplation,

Tufted flowers smiling by,

Here sweet nature's charms descry.

Rising with resplendent rays,

In the morning ere the sun,

Charming light on thee I gaze,

Here begin thy race to run.

And with like diligence should I,

Run my race appointed here;

Distant from temptation fly,

Sav'd from guilt and sav'd from fear.

--Elizabeth Caselli, Poems on Religious and Moral Subjects (1818)

2. The first Acrostic. A Description of the Morning.

From the dull earth the musty vapours fly,

And morn appears to paint the eastern sky,

Night's shades dispers'd, the dusky clouds retire,

Nocturnal orbs now shine with fainter fire,

Yet dimly seen, now fade, and now expire.

Conspir'd to hail the half enlighten'd sphere,

A general chorus rises thro' the air;

Responsive echoes answering to the sound,

Repeat the murm'ring music round and round.

On the vast earth the morning breeze invades,

Leaves, flowers and trees, and dries the dewy shades,

Lifts the green herbs, and fans the fragrant meads.

This my first name, alas! my sex is frail,

Else I had never chang'd it for O'Neill.

--from Mrs. Frances O'Neill, Poetical Essays; being a collection of Satirical Poems. Songs and Acrostics (n.d. [c.1800])


Shall I presume to tell the world my name?--

Up to this hour I glory in my shame:--

So great my weakness, that I boast of might;

A fool in knowledge, yet in wisdom right;

No life, and yet I live; I'm sick, and well;

Not far from Heav'n, though on the brink of Hell,

And words, and oaths, and blood delight me well.

How strange! I'm deaf, and dumb, and lame, and blind,

And hear, and see, and walk, and talk, you find.

Robb'd by my dearest Friend I'm truly poor,

Riches immense I always have in store;

I'm fed by mortals; but, let mortals know,

Such is my food, no mortal can bestow:

Oh! how I long to die, and wish to live!--

Now, if you can, explain th'account I give.

--from [Susannah Harrison] Songs in the Night; by a Young Woman under Heavy Afflictions (4th ed. 1788)