Poetry Tuesday

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Odes

Let’s write some poetry!

The next two Tuesdays we’ll be learning about Odes!


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 a Large Tuna in the Market by 
Pablo Neruda, who’s known for writing odes to unusual subjects.

Here’s part of an ode written by Pablo Neruda about a pair of socks (Translated by Robert Bly)

Ode to My Socks (lines 47-52)

“…The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.”

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?

Ode to the West Wind (excerpt)
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts form an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow…”
   ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Blue Swallows
Across the millstream below the bridge
Seven blue swallows divide the air
In shapes invisible and evanescent,
Kaleidoscopic beyond the mind’s
Or memory’s power to keep them there.

“History is where tensions were,”
“Form is the diagram of forces.”
Thus, helplessly, there on the bridge,
While gazing down upon those birds—
How strange, to be above the birds!—
Thus helplessly the mind in its brain
Weaves up relation’s spindrift web,
Seeing the swallows’ tails as nibs
Dipped in invisible ink, writing…”
~Howard Nemerov

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:

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): Write Your Own Nursery Rhymes

Poem Study: My Shadow, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Poetry Tuesday

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Haiku

Let’s write some poetry!

This week and last week we are learning the ancient art of Haiku!

edit haiku water-lily-1857350_1920 copy

Have you ever heard of a Haiku? Sometimes you just have to dive into to a form in order to appreciate it.

A few things to understand about Haiku:

  1. Haiku are Japanese
  2. Haiku are short, only having 3 lines
  3. They have no rhyme
  4. Each poem captures a moment
  5. Haiku poems show the world like it is (concrete, rather than abstract)
  6. They usually contain something from nature
  7. They often leave you feeling thoughtful

Great! So… how do you write them?

Let’s talk about the structure of the poem! It’s hard to build a building without structure, isn’t it? It would just fall over. So what is the structure of a Haiku?

A. Syllables
1st line: 5 syllables
2nd line: 7 syllables
3rd line: 5 syllables

For example…

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.
— Richard Wright

B.  Two Images
Haiku are often made of two different thoughts or images. One thought or image is across two lines and the other is across one. For example:

new pond—
the first tadpole
wriggles over clean stones
—Christopher Herold

“New pond” is one thought, and “the first tadpole wriggles over clean stones” is the second thought. See how the second thought takes up two lines?

C.  A Cut
Another aspect of Haiku it that they usually contain a cut, or break, somewhere in the poem. For example:

summer grasses—
all that remains
of a warriors’ dreams
—Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

See the cut after the first line?

Okay, ready to write a Haiku?

I suggest finding a quiet place and thinking about your surroundings. If you can go outside, great! Try to describe, using a haiku, what you see, hear, smell, feel, or taste in two different images. It can be a little tricky, but the result is surprisingly lovely.

Hungry for more? Check out this week’s…

Poetry Activity (for kids, adults, and everyone in between): All About Meter

Poem Study: The Violet, by Jane Taylor