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Abecedarian Poetry: What Is It? Origins and Some Examples


Ann loves to write poetry and stories. Current poetry on Nature, Travel & beyond, including varied poetic structures.

Sequence of Letters

Poetical sequence of words

Poetical sequence of words


Inspired by Verlie Burroughs, a fellow Hubber, I wanted to attempt an ‘abecedarian’ poem. In fact, she issued me a challenge! A versatile and accomplished poet, Verlie is a hard act to follow (see link below).

I had never heard of this word before but was amazed to find that its earliest use in texts was around 1665.

If you say it aloud it’s obvious that it is connected to the English alphabet. It refers to a person who is learning the alphabet or the rudiments of a subject, or to something which is alphabetically arranged.

This form of poetry requires choosing words in alphabetical order, one at a time, to create a meaningful verse. Being careful in your choice, to create a mood or keep to a theme, is not easy. Being disciplined, as any concise form of poetry dictates, is a challenge. Being brave (or is it foolish?) enough to try is scary.

I decided my attempt would be about my garden. There is so much variety of growth, colour and wildlife (sometimes including the grandchildren) all around our house so plenty to feed on. Here goes!



Angelic birdsong crowds deciduous elegance

from goldfinch hordes in jostling, keen lines, musical nature offers perfection.

Quarrelsome ranges startle the undergrowth, vying, wild, xylophone-yellow zones.


Velvet puff-ball

Velvet puff-ball


Azaleas bursting, captivating, drawing eyes further;

glorious hydrangeas in jewelled kaleidoscopes, layered mounds nestling

over peonies quietly reviving souls, tender ombré-velvet weaving xana*, your zen.

(*xana: a beautiful nymph)

My Garden

Springy turf, perfect for playing!

Springy turf, perfect for playing!


Access broad, casting dip-entered footsteps, green haven in jade karma,

letting my noisy offspring peruse quests, running, swerving, tumbling, using vibrant words,

x-raying youth’s zest.

Surrounding Scenery

I love trees and there is a bank of wonderful willows by our house, not the weeping kind but those well-known in Somerset for use in basket weaving and the production of cricket bats. So I’m adding a version of ‘abc’ poetry, choosing to use just one letter to start all the words; the letter T.

Somerset Willows

Tops of Willows from the Top Window

Tops of Willows from the Top Window


Tantalisingly tall, trunks tapering to thin tips, tender twining tapestry

tossed to tempers, trading temperate times.

Tearing through time, telling tales to tempt travellers,

taking their thoughts to tributary threads.

Trees trailing tracks, talons touching time, trusty tones tuning the turbulent thunder

to tender themes tonight.


The English language has so many diverse roots spread over the four nations of Great Britain, its indigenous languages and its former occupying invaders. Add to that the variations of American and Antipodean English, the ‘borrowing’ of Indian and other eastern words, and you end up with a rich well of vocabulary to use. We need to delve more deeply into that resource, use the less common words which will otherwise die, cherish the exciting vibrancy of speech and writing at our disposal, in order to nurture and evolve this precious commodity.

Experiment, mix your choices, mix your metaphors, even conjure up your own words. One which sticks in my mind from the excellent writer Robert Macfarlane (in ‘Landmarks’) is a word made up by his son: it means the bunching up of water going downstream when it comes across a large stone in its path; ‘current bum’!

I had to reach into distant corners to pull out relevant words for the poem ‘Trees’, trying not to sound contrived; it was more difficult than I expected and I could no doubt improve it but that might take years! I’ll return to it now and then, tweak the verse, find richer words to suit my purpose and reach into the further depths of that well.

Handsome Hydrangea



I therefore challenge those who feel inclined to create verses using the same initial letter for each word. Choose any letter from the alphabet and write at least two verses about any subject. If you're stuck, use the Hydrangea above. Enjoy!


Link to Verlie’s hub: https://letterpile.com/poetry/The-Road-Home-Poems

Do you write poetry?

© 2019 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on January 26, 2020:

Thank you, Harish, for your kind comments. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and got something from it.


Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on January 25, 2020:

Hi Ann ! How wonderfully and creatively you coined all these alphabet poems: Aerial, borders, carpet, and trees. I love going through all of them, especially the one relating to carpet is the cutest of all which creates a vivid scene before our eyes. Trees to me, is the toughest to create. Also, images are so beautiful.

You also enlightened us about the alphabet poetry more. Thanks a lot my friend for sharing this beautiful and informative hub.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 21, 2019:

Thank you for your visit and comment, Luis.


Luis G Asuncion from City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines on November 21, 2019:

Thanks for sharing. Yes, I do write poetry, usually free verse.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 29, 2019:

Glad you enjoy reading poetry, Lawrence, and thanks for reading these.


Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on August 28, 2019:


I once wrote a couple of Haiku for a creative writing class, but otherwise i just don't wrote poetry, though I like reading it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 16, 2019:

I didn't take the Goldfinch photo but the flowers and garden photos are all mine. This is the first year I've grown tomatoes at this house but they haven't done very well - too much wind by the sea! The leaves get burnt on many of the plants if there is a prolonged strong wind.

I try to grow wild flowers like poppy and cornflower and forget-me-not as they are some of my favourites and usually grow well; I think they are more hardy.

Thank you for your best wishes.


DREAM ON on August 16, 2019:

Your yard is beautiful. What plants do you have? Are the pictures of the flowers from your yard? Gardens and flowers take a lot of time. This year I didn't grow any tomato plants or even a garden. Too busy doing other things. People in the neighborhood said this was a great year to grow tomatoes. The right combination of sun and rain. Go figure. I missed out. There is always next year. In the past, I have had a garden and it has received too much rain. So it didn't do too well. So I skipped it this year. I love wildflowers. So I am having fun moving them all around the yard. Hopefully, they will return next year. Happy morning and I hope you accomplish all you set out to do.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 16, 2019:

Dream On: Thank you for such kind words. I'm glad I can be of some inspiration.


DREAM ON on August 16, 2019:

Wow, you wrote something very inspirational and challenging to all writers everywhere. I love to scroll down and read all your comments. I can see how you have touched so many lives. That is good writing at it's best. You have a beautiful gift. I am watching and learning from you. Thank you for sharing and expressing great talent. Have one incredible day.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 16, 2019:

Thank you, Rodric. You certainly did understand it! Have read it and left a response just now.


Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on August 13, 2019:

Here is my attempt to at the challenge. I think that I understood it appropriately. https://hubpages.com/literature/Abecedarian-Poetry...

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 12, 2019:

I'm sorry, Mel! I could've sworn that I'd answered your comment but it seems to have disappeared!

Thank you for your very kind compliments. 'Wordplay' is what I love doing so I'm glad it worked.

I hope you do try your hand at this. You have a way with words too so I'm sure it'll be well worth the read; looking forward to it.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 12, 2019:

Thank you Rodric. Haven't seen you for a while so glad that you're back. I'll look forward to reading your response to the challenge! Thanks for the visit.


Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on August 12, 2019:

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice writing here. I came here via John Hansen's poems having been absent HP or here sporadically. I want to try the challenge.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 07, 2019:

What glorious, delightful wordplay here! I usually cringe when reading hubber poets, but you have a real mastery of our common tongue. Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful poetry form, maybe I'll try my hand.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 05, 2019:

Thanks John; have now been to read it - well done!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 05, 2019:

Thank you, John! Off to have a look now.


John Hansen from Queensland Australia on August 05, 2019:

Hi Ann, I did take up the challenge: https://letterpile.com/poetry/Hating-the-Word-Fail...

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 01, 2019:

Thank you, John. I'll wait with interest to see what you come up with!


John Hansen from Queensland Australia on August 01, 2019:

Great job with these verses Ann. The first I had heard of abecedarian poetry was through Verlie’s hub. Thank you for issuing the challenge, it certainly is an interesting one. I will see what I can do but am currently travelling so it may have to wait until I return home in a few days.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 30, 2019:

Thank you, Jo! I've always loved trees, since I was very young; they have a certain mystery and grace and of course are so important to our survival.

Thanks for the visit.


Jo Miller from Tennessee on July 30, 2019:

Well done, Ann. As a fellow tree lover, I'm especially impressed by the tree poem.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 28, 2019:

Thank you William, for the visit and for your kind comments.


William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 28, 2019:

My goodness, Ann. I wouldn't even know where to start. Thank you for the introduction to something new. You did a wonderful job with it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 27, 2019:

Thank you, Dora. What a lovely comment!


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 26, 2019:

Ann, your poems are excellent. It seems quite a challenge, but real poets are magical. Pleasurable read!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2019:

Thank you, Rinita. Your response was magnificent!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2019:

Thank you, Rinita; off to read it now...


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2019:

You're welcome, Eric! Thanks for the double visit.


Rinita Sen on July 26, 2019:

Well, I wasn't sure I could do this, but I tried. Here's the outcome if you would like to grace my page with your presence.


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 26, 2019:

I was out in my garden - our garden - and thought of this again. And so thanks again.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2019:

Thank you very much, Rinita, for such a lovely comment. It's good to see you again.

Hope to read some more from you too.


Rinita Sen on July 26, 2019:

I remember Verlie trying out this style in our 10-word Tuesday thread. I have been irregular on HP since then, so haven't checked out her creation that you provided as a link, but I will.

Your creations are not just outstanding in creativity, but also soothing to the soul. Your garden truly inspires. Thank you for another informative article, Ann.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2019:

Thank you Lori. I hope you do take up the challenge.

Verlie is an amazing poet. She manages to say such a lot in so few words and the images she conjures up are outstanding.

I appreciate your visit, as always.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2019:

Gypsy Rose Lee: Thank you. Yes, I like free verse too. As you say, it's a more versatile form of poetry; you can still have a rhythm but no need to worry about rhyme!


Lori Colbo from United States on July 25, 2019:

I had never heard of this type of poetry before and I will attempt to take up your challenge. You did an amazing job. I did not know of Verlie either so I will check her out.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on July 25, 2019:

You have a lovely garden. Thank you for the informative article. I write free verse because then I can just let my inspiration flow and take me in whatever direction it chooses.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 25, 2019:

Thank you, Nithya. I have just about got my garden as I want it after three years of replanting and seeding the grass! It was in an awful state when we bought the house.

I'm glad you enjoyed the poems and I appreciate the compliment.


Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 25, 2019:

You have a beautiful garden! All the poems were excellent keeping in tune to the ‘abecedarian’ form of a poem. Enjoyed reading them all.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 25, 2019:

Thank you, Linda. It's a while since I've written anything but this spurred me to break the silence!

Well, if you find that your attempt is pleasing, which I'm sure it will be, maybe you'll share it with us...? Have fun!


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 24, 2019:

Your poems are excellent, Ann. You've met the challenge brilliantly. I'll try your challenge, though probably just for my own enjoyment.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Thank you Verlie! Thanks, too, for the inspiration; I'm especially pleased that you like it.

Looking forward to reading your response - it's bound to be brilliant!


Verlie Burroughs from Canada on July 24, 2019:

This is brilliant Ann! Gorgeous poetry. And you make it look like fun! Thanks for the link, you are so generous. I like your challenge too, I will see what I can come up with. Cheers!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Thanks Ruby. Why don't you have a go? I'm sure you'd come up with something amazing. Looking forward to reading it asap!


Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 24, 2019:

This is amazing poetry. I would like to try it?

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Thank you kindly, bill. Yes, it's a photo of our back piece of garden which is quite typical for an 'English' garden, along with the traditional roses etc.. We have a triangular plot so there are two other pieces, one to the front and one at the other corner, which all means that I can have three different types of garden! Also plenty of places to sit, depending on shade or full sun - I think it's perfect but then I would, wouldn't I?!

Nothing wrong with a ramble. I do it often and it keeps me sane, I think...


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Yes, Eric. I suppose everything starts with the abc! Good to see you and I always love your comments.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Thanks, Pamela! It's not easy but I can't resist a challenge. There's always a first time so grab the nettle!

I appreciate you stopping by.


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2019:

I rarely read a hub which has a title word I can't pronounce, but in your case I'll make an exception, and since you were inspired by Verlie, well, this then becomes a "must read."

As always you've done a brilliant job of traversing the language and tossing out tidbits of knowledge. Is that a picture of your actual backyard? If so, for whatever reason, I'm always surprised how similar life is in our two countries....that looks like an American yard. Perhaps it is...now I'm rambling....well done, you!


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 24, 2019:

Wonderful Ann. Just getting back into poetry myself. But this is slanted toward your love of words, which we share. Very cool. My understanding is this was first a teaching tool.

Well then another life lesson to learn. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 24, 2019:

This is all new to me. I thought you did a wonderful job with the alphabet and the T. It looks rather difficult to find some words that fit the theme when using x and z. I will consider your challenge, but I have never written any poetry on Hubpages.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Thanks, Flourish! Yes those particular letters certainly stretch the mind but it made me search for words and learn some new ones in the process.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Thank you, Brenda. I appreciate your visit. Glad you enjoyed this.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 24, 2019:

Hello Patricia! Thank you for your kind words. I have a great affinity to trees too and they are so much a part of sustaining our world.

Lovely to see you here.


FlourishAnyway from USA on July 23, 2019:

I didn’t know what this was. Your results were amazing. Those x, y, q, k, u, and z words are challenging!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on July 23, 2019:

I have never heard of this before but it is interesting.

You did a great job on your pieces.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 23, 2019:

How cool is this. Since I am certain I was a tree in another life my favorite one is the one on trees. A very clever and entertaining style. Angels are headed your way this afternoon. ps

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 23, 2019:

Thank you, Liz! Yes, I suppose it could though I didn't find any reference to that possibility. Logically, if the words are still in alphabetical order then it must be allowed. Good point!

Thanks for reading and for your valuable input.


Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 23, 2019:

WOW! Very creative, and yes, very challenging. I wonder, though, it seems it could still be "abecedarian," even if it does not go through the entire alphabet, as you have so cleverly done!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 23, 2019:

Thank you very much, Liz, for your kind comment! Good to see you here.


Liz Westwood from UK on July 23, 2019:

I admire your skill. You have done well to create such good poetry within tight constraints and added good photos too.

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