In our last spotlight on forms, we talked about a rather silly type of poem: the limerick. We’ll shift gears a little bit this time into something a little more serious: the ode! The classic ode is composed of three main parts, including the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Odes typically praise or glorify some event, thing, or individual and take care to describe nature both emotionally and intellectually. There are three main forms odes can take: the Horation ode, the Pindaric ode, and the Irregular ode.
The Three Forms of Odes
- Horation ode
This form was named for the Latin poet, Horace. It tends to contain a one-stanza pattern of 2-4 lines in length, which repeats throughout the poem.
- Pindaric ode
This form of ode gets its name from the Greek poet, Pindar. It is composed of three stanzas called triads. It can be made up of a few triads, but the first (the strophe) and the second (the antistrophe) will be metrically identical, with the third triad (the epode) standing alone.
- Irregular ode
As its name suggests, the irregular ode follows no particular structure and instead focuses on the praising aspect of the poem.
A Famous Example of an Ode
Take a look at this excerpt from the famous poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” by John Keats. Keats found that the standard Pindaric ode form did not suit his needs and found it inadequate. He chose to develop his own ode form, making this poem an irregular ode.
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
To read the poem in its entirety, click here.
Take a stab at writing your own ode to something you care about! If you like what you write, consider submitting it to our poetry contest and show your work to the world!