X is for Xanthippe
Today we did acrostic poems. As an example students read Edgar Allen Poe’s An Acrostic.
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.
–Edgar Allan Poe (1829)
Apparently Edgar Allan Poe struggled with writing the poem so in line 4 when he uses the name of Socrate’s wife he used an alternate spelling “Zantippe.” Though there are alternate spellings (like below) it is most commonly spelled Xanthippe.
Xanthippe means yellow horse. Most of what is known of Xanthippe is based on stories instead of facts. Apparently, she was almost 40 years younger than Socrates and they still managed to have 3 sons together. In Socrates’s Symposium he describes her as argumentative. Yet, he chose her to be his wife because of the way she argues! According to Poe’s poem his Elizabeth has the same talents.