The ode


The Ode may be defined as a ‘rhymed lyric often in the form of an address, generally dignified or exalted in the subject, feeling and style’. It is also defined as any ‘strain of enthusiastic or exalted lyrical verse directed to fixed purpose and dealing progressively with a dignified theme’. An ode is noted for its logical evolution of thoughts and it has a certain amount of complexity and elaboration, unlike a simple lyric.

An ode usually begins with an address to somebody or something. Sometimes the opening line or lines may contain an apostrophe as in the case of Shelley’s ‘Ode to the west wind’ or Tennyson’s ‘To Virgil’s. An ode may be written on an important public event or the death of a distinguished person. Marvell’s ‘Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’ belongs to the first category and Tennyson’s ‘Ode on the Death of Duke of Wellington’ belongs to the second category.

Origin of Ode:

The ode is of Greek origin. There were two traditions of odes in Greece. The first type of the Dorian mode was so called from the district and dialect in which it arose. It is also called the Pindaric ode because Pindar, the ancient Greek poet, was its greatest exponent. The second type of ode is the lesbian old so-called because it flourished at first on the island of lesbos. It is also called the horatian ode because the great Latin poet Horace was its best practitioner. Thomas Gray’s odes ‘The progress of Poesy” and “The Bard” belong to the Dorian or Pindaric school. Marvell’s ‘Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’ is the best example of a Horatian ode in English.

A pindaric or Dorian ade consists of three parts:

The strophe, the anti-strophe, and the epode. they correspond to the three stages of the recital of an ode during a dance. The Horatian ode consists of several short stanzas similar in length and arrangement.

In the early stages, the English ode was influenced by the two Greek models. But gradually the English ode begins to pursue a course of its own. There are two types of odes in English, the regular and the regular.

Regular odes:

The regular odes have a series of exactly similar stanzas as in the odes of Keats. Other examples of regular verbs are Collin’s ‘ode to evening’ and Shelley’s ‘ode to the west wind’.

Irregular odes:

Irregular odes have tons of different lengths and arrangements. There are sudden changes in versification, meter, and mood. Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations of Immortality from recollections of early childhood and Coleridge’s ‘Dejection: An Ode’ are good examples of irregular odes.

Some famous odes:

  • Ode To A Nightingale John Keats. My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains.
  • Ode On A Grecian Urn John Keats.
  • Ode To Autumn John Keats.
  • Ode To The West Wind Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  • Ode To Wine Pablo Neruda.
  • Ode To Sadness Pablo Neruda.
  • Ode On Solitude Alexander Pope.
  • Ode To The Book Pablo Neruda.


In English Ben Jonson, Milton and Gray wrote Pindaric Odes. Marvell road Horatian odes. Other important poets who wrote odes were Spenser, Collins, Keats, Shelley, and Tennyson. Perhaps the ode is the most popular lyrics form except the Sonnet.

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