How To Write an Ode

An ode is a type of poem that follows a certain pattern. It was very popular in classical times, especially in Greece. The earliest odes were lyrical poems that were accompanied with music, but in modern days they are characterized simply by their form. In classic times, odes were meant to detail famous people, events, or places in sort of a story format, but modern poets have broadened odes to cover all sorts of topics.

Writing a modern ode isn’t too difficult as long as you understand the outline and have a subject to write about. If you’re stuck for a subject, take a long walk or try relaxing and thinking about all the things that you find particularly amazing or beautiful. Something will come to you at some point.

An ode consists of 10 lines per stanza that follow a rigid rhyme pattern. There are different types of odes that one can write; the most defining characteristic of each one is the rhyme scheme. The English Ode has a rhyming pattern that is best described as ABABCDECDE. A variation of this is the Classical Ode which has a rhyme scheme of ABBACCDDEEFF. The rhyme scheme is described by letters that represent rhyming sounds. For example, in the case of an English Ode, the A might refer to an ‘at’ sound, such as the word cat. Which means the first and third lines would end with a word that has the ‘at’ rhyming sound.

An ode can consist of as many 10 line verses as the writer wants. Some odes only have one verse and some odes have many verses. The way to decide which would be best for your poem is by examining your subject matter. Is it a description of some sort that would best be summed up in ten lines? Or is it a narrative of an event or person that might require a couple of verses to truly finish describing everything? The length of your poem will depend upon how you answer these and other similar questions.

Another aspect of writing an ode is iambic meter. Iambic meter is a writing style in which the stresses of words follow an unstressed, then stressed, syllable pattern. The most common example of this is the iambic pentameter that Shakespeare mastered; in this form, every syllable was unstressed, stressed, unstressed, etc. and there are five of these unstressed/stressed beats per line.


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