Created by early Grecian poet Pindar out of the traditional forms of Greek tragedy, the ode is generally defined as a rhymed poem of irregular meter that praises its subject. The English ode consists of an undefined number of 10-line stanzas. An ode poem is a poem that is about only one specific thing that you think is truly amazing and praiseworthy. This type of poem can be centered upon an object, an idea, or even a person. The trick to writing an ode poem is to write using the same structure throughout, while using different words to communicate the one thing you are writing about.
Tips for Writing an Ode
1. What really makes you emotional, either in a positive or negative way? Think of an object, person, or idea that you are deeply connected to, and this will be the topic of your ode poem. Remember, an ode poem can only be focused on one thing, so make sure that whatever you pick is something that you feel strongly about, so you have enough to write.
2. Think of specific adjectives to describe how you feel about the topic of your ode. Throughout the poem, you will have to use many words that have the same definition or meaning, so you might want to check out a thesaurus if you get stuck with this part.
3. How long do you want your poem to be? Start by splitting up your poem into groups, or stanzas, of ten lines. Most odes have three of these stanzas, but you can write more or less than that if you chose.
4. How do you want your poem to rhyme? It’s up to you how you want to format the rhyme scheme of this poem. You can make every two lines rhyme, every other line rhyme (most odes do this), or make up your own pattern- just make sure that whatever pattern you choose, you use the same one for the whole poem.
5. Fit the ideas from your planning process into phrases and stanzas. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words that may not fit the structure and rhyme scheme of your ode.
6. Read your draft aloud to see if it flows easily and makes sense.
7. Shift words and phrases around to make it sound better. Add alliteration and internal rhymes to strengthen it. Eliminate words that make the poem sound clumsy.
8. Share your ode with friends and family.
[Lesson adapted from Power Poetry website]
“Ode on a Grecian Urn”
BY JOHN KEATS
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?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."