Date: Tuesday, October 14
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. 

Place: St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street), 3rd Floor 
Theme: Poetry and the Ode

Join the One Page Poetry Circle on October 14 to discuss Poetry and the Ode.

What is an ode? Basically it is a poem that expresses personal emotions while Pedestalreflecting on a being or thing of significance to the poet. The ode is one of the oldest forms of poetry, and was originally a poem with a complex stanza form accompanied by music. Odes of the ancient Greeks contained a strophe, antistrophe, and epode which refer to the rhythmical patterns of the text. The strophe and the antistrophe were sung by the chorus on opposites sides of the stage, and the antistrophe provided a conclusion somewhere in the middle. The Pindaric ode consists of three sections with irregular line lengths and rhyme patterns and celebrated gods or events such as the Olympics. The Romans wrote odes as lyrical poems of a more personal nature. The Horatian ode is calmer and less formal than the Greek and not written for a stage performance. The more modern English or Irregular ode, written in a freer style, makes no attempt to follow the traditional form although it sometimes retains the three-part structure.

The ode was popular among British Romantic poets, who looked at the world and saw themselves. William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” contrasts his state of mind as a child with his current depression. Where once the world appeared to him with “the glory and the freshness of a dream,” he finds that those visions have fled and concludes:

Though nothing can bring back the hour 
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; 
We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind

Although Wordsworth’s subject matter is modern in that he examines his own beliefs, he keeps the traditional structure of a contrast of two viewpoints and a resolution. More recent odes are often a celebration of an object, such as Max Mendelsohn’s “Ode to Marbles”:

I love the sound of marbles
scattered on the worn wooden floor,
like children running away in a game of hide-and-seek.
I love the sight of white marbles,
blue marbles,
green marbles, black,
new marbles, old marbles,
iridescent marbles,
with glass-ribboned swirls,
dancing round and round.
I love the feel of marbles,
cool, smooth,
rolling freely in my palm,
like smooth-sided stars
that light up the worn world.

In Mendelsohn’s ode the three-part structure celebrates the sound, sight, and feel of marbles.

To add a comment about odes, or post one you like, click the small speech balloon next to this blog post headline and follow the prompts. We look forward to your thoughts.