Created by 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 is a poem that is written for an occasion or on a particular
subject. It is a dignified and more serious form of poetry.
The ode was originally a Greek form used in dramatic poetry, in which a chorus would follow the
movements of a dance while singing the words of the ode. Those odes often celebrated a public
occasion of consequence, such as a military victory. From those ancient Greek beginnings, the
form has descended through the Western culture to appear in English divested of dance and song.
Irregular odes: they have no set rhyme scheme and no set stanza pattern.
Horatian odes: follow a regular stanza pattern and rhyme scheme, as does the ode by Keats.
Please write an ode to a common thing. Your ode should evoke its subject with the greatest
accuracy possible, and should make use of all the descriptive devices available: your five senses,
precise nouns and verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and of course, brilliant similes and metaphors! Don’
t forget to allude to the history, function, main characteristics, and the generally wonderful and
whimsical aspects of your subject.
STEP 1: Consider the subject matter that you wish to write about, and remember that beauty can
be found in the least expected places.
STEP 2: Write a 10-line stanza of iambic verse using an ababcdecde rhyme scheme.
STEP 3: Proceed to write as many 10-line stanzas as desired. Use the same rhyme scheme pattern
in the following stanzas, but with different rhymes. If you do this correctly, the "a" of a stanza will
rhyme only with the "a" of that same stanza.
STEP 4: Revise as needed.
Note: Iambic verse=a common meter in poetry consisting of an unrhymed line with five feet or
accents, each foot containing an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable
Write your ode in a couple of phases:
Phase 1: Observe and take thorough notes on your subject, and brainstorm a list of everything you
know about your subject, as well as all your associations with it.
Phase 2: Craft your ode using a choice selection of the most evocative description you can come
Tips & Warnings
To write a Pindaric ode (often referred to as the "regular" form of the ode), write three 10-line
stanzas. The three parts of the Pindaric ode consist of the strophe and the antistrophe ("the turn"
and "the counterturn"), which are identical in form, followed by the epode ("the stand"), which is
The Horatian ode does not have a true pattern but tends to be more meditative in nature.
Don't let peers who claim to be poets discourage you from using poetic forms. When you hear a
poet say how much he or she dislikes writing in form, remember that a great artist sees the
opportunities in every canvas, regardless of shape or size. A poor artist sees only the limitations.
Break the Ode Code, see the following for more information: