Carroll’s double acrostic poem

To solve this double acrostic, a clue must be puzzled out of each stanza (except the first). When stacked vertically, the first and last letters of the words spell out the recipients names. See below for the solution.


Double Acrostic

[Addressed to two children, whose names form
the two “upright” words, which are supposed to be
described in the first stanza.]


Two little maids were heard to say,
(They dwelt in London-city),
“This summer-day’s too hot to play,
And picture-books are pretty.”


So, curling up like little mice,
And clasping hand in hand,
They read (& whispered “Aint it nice!”)
The tale of Wonderland.

Bright streamed the sunlight on the floor,
To tempt them out to run;
But they (like mice, I’ve said before)
Loved shadow more than sun.

And one cried “Sister, let’s invent
A dream—and plan to go
Where Mr. Carroll says he went—
That Russian Fair, you know!”

The other said “It’s nearly three:
Papa will call us soon.
His pictures on the stand, and we
Must sit this afternoon.”

“And if we sit extremely good,”
The younger cried in haste,
“He’ll give us wine—he said he would—
A little tiny taste!”


[In explanation of the last two verses, it should
Be added that they are an Artists’ children.]

The poem is addressed to Agnes and Emily Hughes, the daughters of Pre-Raphaelite painter Arthur Hughes. The solution to the double acrostic is:

A   lic   E
G   loo  M
N   ijn   I*
E   ase   L
S   herr  Y

* “Nijni” is a reference to the Fair of Nijni-Novgorod. Carroll visited Russia in 1867.

Image Caption:
Lewis Carroll (1832—1898)
Double acrostic poem, ca. 1871-1891
The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., 1987, MA 6381. Photography by Graham S. Haber, 2015.