Poetry Tuesday

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Odes, Week 2

Let’s write some poetry!

This week and last, we’ve been learning about Odes!

tuna in the market

A. Introduction to Odes:
An ode is a poem that celebrates or appreciates something or someone.

For example…
John Keats wrote an Ode to a Nightingale.
Pablo Neruda wrote an Ode To Sadness.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote an Ode about France.
There is an Ode to Silence, by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
William Wordsworth wrote an Ode to Duty.
There’s even an Ode To My Socks by 
Pablo Neruda, who’s known for writing odes to unusual subjects.

Here’s part of an ode written by Pablo Neruda about a large fish in the market:

Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market
(Translated by Robin Robertson)

“Surrounded
by the earth’s green froth
—these lettuces,
bunches of carrots—
only you
lived through
the sea’s truth, survived
the unknown, the
unfathomable
darkness, the depths
of the sea,
the great
abyss,
le grand abîme,
only you:
varnished
black-pitched
witness
to that deepest night.”


B. All About Odes

  1. An ode is about loving, appreciating, or celebrating someone or something
  2. An ode is full of emotion, strong images, and descriptive words
  3. An ode can rhyme
  4. An ode is usually quite serious but it can be silly if the ode is more of a joke

C. Reading Odes
As you read the following excerpts, ask yourself:
~What is the poet celebrating or admiring?
~Does the poem rhyme?
~Does it have strong imagery?

The (Brooklyn) Bridge
(excerpt)

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
—Till elevators drop us from our day…
~Hart Crane

The Fire of Driftwood
(excerpt) 
We sat within the farmhouse old,
Whose windows, looking o’er the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
An easy entrance, night and day.

Not far away we saw the port,
The strange, old-fashioned, silent town,
The lighthouse, the dismantled fort,
The wooden houses, quaint and brown.

We sat and talked until the night,
Descending, filled the little room;
Our faces faded from the sight,
Our voices only broke the gloom.
~Henry W. Longfellow

D. Writing An Ode
Your turn to write an ode!

~Think of something or someone that you love and want to celebrate!
~Try writing a short one to start (5 lines or so) and then grow it to 7 or 10 as you have more to say.
~If you’re a more experienced writer, see if you can make it 15-30 lines!
~If you like rhyming, go for it, but remember that not every ode has to rhyme.

E. Advanced: More About Odes:
For the purposes of this quick, fun, introduction, I’ve only talked about odes in general, but if you’re interested, look into the specific kinds of odes:
Pindaric
Horatian
Irregular

There are also different  ode parts:
The strophe
The antistrophe
The epode

Pleased with your ode? Share it on my Facebook page or in the comments!

Hungry for more? Check out this week’s…

Poetry Activity (for kids, adults, and everyone in between): Fill-in-the-blank poem

Poem Study: The Brook, by Alfred Lord Tennyson

3 thoughts on “Advanced Poetry Lesson: Odes, Week 2”

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