ode, elaborate and stately lyric poem of some length. The ode dates back to the Greek choral songs that were sung and danced at public events and celebrations. The Greek odes of Pindar, which were modeled on the choral odes of Greek drama, were poems of praise or glorification. They were arranged in stanzas patterned in sets of three—a strophe and an antistrophe, which had an identical metrical scheme, and an epode, which had a structure of its own. The ode of the Roman poets Horace and Catullus employed the simpler and more personal lyric form of Sappho, Anacreon, and Alcaeus (see lyric). The ode in later European literature was conditioned by both the Pindaric and the Horatian forms. During the Renaissance the ode was revived in Italy by Gabriello Chiabrera and in France most successfully by Ronsard. Ronsard imitated Pindar in odes on public events and Horace in more personal odes. Horatian odes also influenced the 17th-century English poets, especially Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, and Andrew Marvell. Milton's ode "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" (1629) shows the influence of Pindar, as do the poems written for public occasions by his contemporary Abraham Cowley. However, the Cowleyan (or irregular) ode, originated by Cowley, disregarded the complicated metrical and stanzaic structure of the Pindaric form and employed freely altering stanzas and varying lines. In general the odes of the 19th-century romantic poets—Keats, Shelley, Coleridge—and of such later poets as Swinburne and Hopkins tend to be much freer in form and subject matter than the classical ode. Notable examples of the three kinds of ode are: Pindaric ode, e.g., Thomas Gray's "The Progress of Poesy" ; Horatian ode, e.g., Keats's "To Autumn" ; Cowleyan ode, e.g., Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality." Although the ode has been seldom used in the 20th cent., Allen Tate in "Ode on the Confederate Dead" and Wallace Stevens in "The Idea of Order at Key West" made successful, and highly personal, use of the form.

See studies by C. Maddison (1960), G. N. Shuster (1965), R. Shafer (1918, repr. 1966), J. D. Jump (1974), and P. H. Fry (1980).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Apollo and the Nine: A History of the Ode
Carol Maddison.
Johns Hopkins, 1960
FREE! The Writing and Reading of Verse
C. E. Andrews.
D. Appleton & Company, 1918
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIV "Ode"
The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature
Gilbert Highet.
Oxford University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "The Renaissance and Afterwards: Lyric Poetry"
A Survey of Burlesque and Parody in English
George Kitchin.
Oliver and Boyd, 1931
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Burlesque of Eighteenth Century Lyric Kinds, and the Rolliad"
FREE! The Ancient Classical Drama: A Study in Literary Evolution Intended for Readers in English and in the Original
Richard G. Moulton.
Clarendon Press, 1898 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of odes begins on p. 65
The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature
M. C. Howatson.
Oxford University Press, 1989 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Ode" begins on p. 388
Linguistics and Literary History: Essays in Stylistics
Leo Spitzer.
Princeton Univ. Press, 1948
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Interpretation of an Ode"
A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography
Egon Wellesz.
Clarendon Press, 1961 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "The Poetical Forms: (II) Kanon"
Metaphysical to Augustan: Studies in Tone and Sensibility in the Seventeenth Century
Geoffrey Walton.
Bowes & Bowes, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Abraham Cowley and the Pindarique Ode"
Pindar's Pythian Odes: Essays in Interpretation
R. W. B. Burton.
Oxford University Press, 1962
Keats's Odes and Contemporary Criticism
James O' Rourke.
University Press of Florida, 1998
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