Ode Examples and Definition - Literary Devices (2023)

Definition of Ode

An ode is a lyrical stanza written in praise for a person, event, or thing. The form developed in Ancient Greece and had a very specific and elaborate structure involving three parts known as the strophe, antistrophe, and epode. Originally, Greek odes were set to music. The form was later popularized and adapted in Renaissance England and led to a new set of conventions, which we will explore below.

The word ode comes originally from the Greek word ᾠδή (ōidē), meaning “song.” The definition of ode has thus clearly changed over time, as now it is often used colloquially to refer to any praise or glorification of an individual or thing.

Types of Odes

In Ancient Greek poetry there were three types of odes: Pindaric, Horatian, and irregular. Not surprisingly, the Pindaric ode is named after the Greek poet Pindar, and the Horatian ode is named after the Roman poet Horace.

  • Pindaric: Pindar is often credited with creating the ode form. This original form of the ode contained the formal opening of the strophe, the mirroring stanza called the antistrophe (which has the same meter and length of the strophe), and the concluding epode, which has a different meter and length than the previous two sections. These ode examples were originally performed by a chorus and accompanied by dancers and instruments such as the aulos and lyre.
  • Horatian: Known as a homostrophic ode, each stanza in the Horatian ode form has the same meter, rhyme scheme, and length. This is not the only difference from the Pindaric ode; Horatian odes are also less formal and more intimate and reflective. Horatian odes generally have two- or four-line stanzas.
  • Irregular: Irregular odes use rhyme scheme and meter, but do not have the same stanzaic structure as either the Pindaric or Horatian odes. There is no correspondence between the different parts, as there is in the other two forms, and the rhyme scheme requires lines only to rhyme somewhere, and not in a particular place.

Common Examples of Ode

Though technically the ode is a lyrical poem with certain conventions of meter and rhyme, we often use the word conversationally to describe any outpouring of praise for someone or something. For example, here are some recent news headlines that have nothing to do with the poetic form:

  • “A rapper’s relatable ode to paying off student loans.” (CNN, 3/30/16)
  • “State of the Union 2016: Barack Obama urges change in mindset among Americans, politicians. It has been described as an ode to unfinished business.” (ABC, 1/13/16)
  • “An ode to donuts.” (The Daily Californian, 6/29/15)

(Video) Ode (literary device)#English literature.

Significance of Ode in Literature

The ode has held an elevated position in the history of literature. Pindaric odes were often written and performed to celebrate athletic victories while, much later, Romantic poets wrote odes in English to celebrate their strongest sentiments and deepest admirations. The ode suited both of these time periods well due to the love of drama in both Ancient Greece and in the Romantic period at the end of the 18th century and into the 19th century. The first known odes written in English were the “Epithalamium” and “Prothalamium” by Edmund Spenser, but the form really took off with the irregular odes of Abraham Cowley. The Romantic poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the most famous examples of odes in the English language.

Examples of Ode in Literature

Example #1

Creatures for a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of heaven,
Then rests on them a light of glory
And blessed are their days.

(“Victory Ode” by Pindar)

This ode example is a translation of the poet who created the entire form, Pindar. In it, we can see the grandiose theme of victory and the glory of man.

Example #2

Ye learned sisters which have oftentimes
Beene to me ayding, others to adorne:
Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes,
That even the greatest did not greatly scorne
To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes,
But joyed in theyr prayse.
And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne,
Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse,
Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne,
And teach the woods and waters to lament
Your dolefull dreriment.
Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside,
And having all your heads with girland crownd,
Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound,
Ne let the same of any be envide:
So Orpheus did for his owne bride,
So I unto my selfe alone will sing,
The woods shall to me answer and my Eccho ring.

(“Epithalamion” by Edmund Spenser)

Edmund Spenser’s “Epithalamion” is one of the two first examples of ode in the English language. Coming from Elizabethan England, this first stanza of Spenser’s ode reveals the large themes that he will be dealing with in his poem. There is also the allusion to the legendary Greek musician and poet Orpheus, which further ties Spenser’s poetic form to its origins in Ancient Greece.

Example #3

Wake up, you little sleep head, awake
And give great joy to life that’s found in dreams
From Nature’s most sweet sounding streams

(Video) Literary Term #27 | Ode | Definition of Ode | Literary Terms | Poetic Devices | Best English Notes

A thousand turns their twisty journeys take
The dancing flowers, that above them blow
Breathe life and music as they flow

Now the vast waves of sound drift along
Deep, beautiful, vast and strong
Through the fields and vales and valleys they glide
And rolling down the mountain side
Daring and carefree the water pours
From the highest edge they jump and falling, they roar.

(“The Progress of Poesy” by Thomas Gray)

Thomas Gray’s “The Progress of Poesy” is an excellent English example of ode in the Pindaric tradition. In this short poem we can see the strophe and mirroring antistrophe; Gray has chosen stanzas of three lines with a rhyme between the first lines of each to strengthen their connection. The final stanza is double the length and has a slightly different rhyme scheme; this acts as the concluding epode. Gray uses imagery and language that glorifies nature and art, typical of the Pindaric ode.

Example #4

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

(“Ode on Solitude” by Alexander Pope)

Alexander Pope’s “Ode on Solitude” is a beautiful example of an ode in the Horatian tradition. Pope uses four-line stanzas, which are typical of Horatian odes. Furthermore, his stanzas are homostrophic, which is to say there is no variation between meter, rhyme scheme, and length from one stanza to the next. The theme of this ode is also more contemplative and personal in nature, as is fitting for a Horatian ode. Instead of talking about the grand beauty of nature, Pope reflects on the quality of solitude and how it allows the speaker more time for meditation.

(Video) Ode and its types - Explained with examples

Example #5

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-fringed 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?

(“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats)

John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is perhaps the most well-known ode ever written (though more so in name than in content, perhaps). This is an example of an irregular ode; there is rhyme throughout, but it is not as strict as other rhyme forms. Keats wrote this poem to glorify the virtues of classical Greek art; therefore, no other poetic form is as fitting as the ode, which is an example of classical Greek art itself.

Test Your Knowledge of Ode

1. Which of the following statements is the best ode definition?
A. A figure of speech which shows appreciation for someone.
B. A lyric poem that glorifies something or something.
C. Something that is extremely repulsive or unpleasant.


Answer to Question #1Show

2. Which of these is not an form of the ode?
A. Spenserian
B. Horatian
C. Pindaric

Answer to Question #2Show

3. Which of the following statements is true?
A. The Roman poet Horace is credited with having created the ode form.
B. Pindaric odes have the same length and meter in each of three stanzas.
C. Irregular odes contain meter and rhyme scheme.

Answer to Question #3Show


What is ode in literature with examples? ›

An ode is a kind of poem, usually praising something. A famous example is John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Apparently, Keats was really into urns.

What is ode as a literary device? ›

An ode is a short lyric poem that praises an individual, an idea, or an event. In ancient Greece, odes were originally accompanied by music—in fact, the word “ode” comes from the Greek word aeidein, which means to sing or to chant. Odes are often ceremonial, and formal in tone.

What is a ode simple definition? ›

noun. ˈōd. plural odes. : a lyric poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style, varying length of line, and complexity of stanza forms. Keats's ode "To a Nightingale"

What is an ode answer? ›

An ode (from Ancient Greek: ᾠδή, romanized: ōdḗ) is a type of lyric poetry. Odes are elaborately structured poems praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode.

What is an example of ode in a sentence? ›

This report is an ode to the free and undistorted competition that it holds up as an infallible remedy against the financial crisis. That document is like a schoolboy ode.

What is famous example of ode? ›

For example, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats was written based on his experiments with the sonnet. Other well-known odes include Percy Bysshe Shelley's “Ode to the West Wind,” Robert Creeley's “America,” Bernadette Mayer's “Ode on Periods,” and Robert Lowell's “Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket.”

What are the elements of an ode? ›

The Elements of an Ode

The ode form often contains the three elements: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. The strophe is the first part of a choral ode. Traditionally, in Greek choral odes, which were recited, the strophe was chanted by the chorus as it moved across the stage.

Where is ode used? ›

Differential equation models are used in many fields of applied physical science to describe the dynamic aspects of systems. The typical dynamic variable is time, and if it is the only dynamic variable, the analysis will be based on an ordinary differential equation (ODE) model.

What are three characteristics of an ode? ›

  • Relatively speaking, an ode is the longest of all lyric forms.
  • The poet apostrophizes a person or a thing. ...
  • The ode always expresses lofty & noble sentiments.
  • The tone of the ode is always formal. ...
  • It has a very elaborate & complex stanzaic structure.

Which of the following is the most accurate definition of ode? ›

An ode is a poem, especially one that is written in praise of a particular person, thing, or event.

How do you write a simple ode? ›

Structure and Write Your Ode

Once you have an idea for your subject matter and the rhyme structure you want to follow, create an outline of your ode, breaking each part into a new stanza. Try to come up with three or four stanzas that address three or four different aspects of your topic to give your ode structure.

Does an ode have to rhyme? ›

What is the formation of an ode? Modern odes are usually rhyming — although that isn't a hard rule — and are written with irregular meter. Each stanza has ten lines each, and an ode is usually written with between three and five stanzas.

What is the most famous ode? ›

Some of the most famous historical odes describe traditionally romantic things and ideas: William Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" is an ode to the Platonic doctrine of "recollection"; John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" describes the timelessness of art; and Percy ...

How do you identify an ode? ›

An ode is a poetic form that's best described as a song or poem written in praise or celebration of an object, a place or an experience. It is a positive, usually exuberant, piece of work that, today, need not be written in meter or rhyme, though a poet may choose to use these devices if she wishes.

What is an ode quizlet? ›

Ode. a single, unified strain of exalted lyrical verse directed to a single purpose and dealing with one theme, eleborate, dignified and imaginitive odes are divided into strohe, antistrophe and epode.

How do you use ode? ›

With the Ode card, you can shop both online and in-store like a regular debit card. Simply look for the Visa Prepaid® acceptance mark – which is over 36 million retailers worldwide. Plus, when you shop at qualifying retailers with your Ode card, you can earn up to 12% cashback.

How do you write a 10 line ode? ›

How to Write an Ode
  1. Consider the subject matter that you wish to write about, and remember that beauty can be found in the least expected places. ...
  2. Write a 10-line stanza of iambic verse using an ababcdecde rhyme scheme.
  3. Proceed to write as many 10-line stanzas as desired. ...
  4. Revise as needed.
Nov 7, 2018

What are the two types of ode? ›

Odes are of three types, including (1) Pindar ode, (2) Horatian ode, and (3) irregular ode.
  • Pindar Ode. ...
  • Horatian Ode. ...
  • Irregular Ode. ...
  • Example #1: Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood By William Wordsworth. ...
  • Example #2: Ode to the Confederate Dead By Allen Tate.

What is an ode for kids? ›

An ode is a type of lyrical poem, originally meant to be sung. They're typically short and praise an individual, idea or event.

How many lines does an ode need? ›

Odes often consist of stanzas (or groupings of lines of poetry) of ten lines each. The Pindaric ode, which follows the strophe, antistrophe, and epode structure, has three stanzas, usually totaling thirty lines. However, even Pindaric odes can be as short as four lines.

What is the general form of an ode? ›

Theorem The general solution of the ODE a(x) d2y dx2 + b(x) dy dx + c(x)y = f(x), is y = CF + PI, where CF is the general solution of homogenous form a(x) d2y dx2 + b(x) dy dx + c(x)y = 0, called the complementary function and PI is any solution of the full ODE, called a particular integral.

Why is ode useful? ›

Differential equations are important because for many physical systems, one can, subject to suitable idealizations, formulate a differential equation that describes how the system changes in time.

Can an ode be free verse? ›

While there are various acceptable structures that odes can take, they must be structured. Odes are rarely written in free verse: they almost always have a set rhyme scheme and meter that the poet sticks to throughout the poem, even if that structure is unique.

What is another word for ode? ›

Synonyms of ode
  • poem.
  • sonnet.
  • lyric.
  • rhyme.
  • lament.
  • epic.
  • psalm.
  • ballad.

What is ode introduction? ›

An ordinary differential equation is an equation which is defined for one or more functions of one independent variable and its derivatives. It is abbreviated as ODE. y'=x+1 is an example of ODE.

How is an ode structure? ›

An ode is a lyrical poem that expresses praise, glorification, or tribute. It examines its subject from both an emotional and an intellectual perspective. Classic odes date back to ancient Greece, and they contain three sections: a strophe, an antistrophe, and an epode—effectively a beginning, middle, and end.

How does an ode begin? ›

A traditional ode begins by naming the subject of the poem, typically preceded by the word "oh." This line may be repeated at the beginning of each stanza, or sporadically throughout the poem. You can be as specific or general as you want.

Can an ode be negative? ›

Once you've settled on a topic, choose your angle. Whether you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings towards your chosen topic, it's important that you have a strong angel to work with. No matter what you choose to write about, make sure it means something personal to you.

What is the format of ode? ›

What is the formation of an ode? Modern odes are usually rhyming — although that isn't a hard rule — and are written with irregular meter. Each stanza has ten lines each, and an ode is usually written with between three and five stanzas. There are three common ode types: Pindaric, Horatian, and irregular.

How many ode are there in English literature? ›

There are three types of ode: Pindaric, Horatian, and irregular.

What is the main purpose of an ode? ›

The purpose of an ode is generally to memorialize and celebrate something of great value or significance.

How do you identify an ode poem? ›

An ode is a formal lyric poem that is written in celebration, appreciation, or dedication. They are generally directed as a specific person, place, idea, or object. Unlike other forms of poetry, the ode does not have a strict line or stanza requirement.

Does an ode have a rhyme scheme? ›

The most common rhyme scheme for English odes was ABABCDECDE, but today, odes come in many schemes and sizes. So if you're trying out an ode for the first time, or want to take the classic form in a new direction, check out these six tips for writing the modern ode.

What are the 3 types of odes? ›

There are three types of odes: the Horation; the Pindaric; and the Irregular. The Horation ode (named for the Latin poet, Horace) contains one stanza pattern that repeats throughout the poem--usually 2 or 4 lines in length. (Common Poetry Terms.)


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