How to Write an Ode?

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Originally published Jul 02, 2017, updated Apr 29, 2021
How to Write an Ode?

To put it simply, an ode is a lyric poem. It is an address to a subject in particular. An ode is hands down one of the few excellent ways to express intense emotions. You can bring a modern twist and attract an even bigger audience. A well-written ode can help the writer show grieve, gratitude, or even establish a point cleverly. There is no one standard size or scheme for this; there are different types of odes. The tips below will help you create a classic form, but you can always spruce it up. Let's start with a firm foundation.

Choosing a Topic

The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing a topic. With that said, there are a few directions you can take. A few of them are:

Something You are Passionate About

If you are looking forward to writing a serious ode, one best option to select is something you are deeply connected to. Since odes are about a single object or person, it is easier to begin with, something you possess strong sentiments about.

You can include:

  • The foods you love.
  • A favorite holiday.
  • An object near to your heart.
  • Significant people in your life.

Odes written on people tend to be more sincere and serious- it is not necessary, though. You can be writing about your father, that too, in a light-hearted way.

Use an Everyday Object for Humor

A few of the most humorous and irregular odes are about ordinary objects. It provides you an opportunity to instill a fun element into your craft and gives the reader a chance to analyze the item in a new light.

If you work in an office, you might consider writing an ode to the copier. In most offices, this is not something anybody would consider singing praises to. With that said, you can use the object and write a serious ode as well. One of the examples of famous odes includes "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats.

Inspiration from Established Poets

If you are out of new ideas, an excellent way to get your creative juices flowing is to take inspiration from the formerly published work. It will provide you guidance in approaching your subject matter. You can also get familiarized with the structure and poetic form.

An excellent example of a Pindaric ode is "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" by William Wordsworth. Another example talking about the world's limitation is "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. If you are looking forward to studying a Horatian ode, try reading Allen Tate's "Ode to the Confederate Dead."

Talk to Friends to Brainstorm

Are you still stuck? It is okay to meet your friends over brunch who share the same interests as you. Even if they do not, strike up a conversation. Chances are the things that interest you will spring up at some point in time. It is your task to identify them as your potential topics. For instance, upon gathering, a conversation starts about the newly released English movie. You can always consider crafting an ode dedicated to your favorite character.

Setting Your Story

This is everything you need to know about the structure of odes. There are a few types you can follow.

Use a Classical Structure for Formality

As far as classical odes are concerned, there are two main types. These include Horatian odes and Pindaric odes. These comprise formulaic structures with a very complex meter and rhyme schemes quite specific.

A Pindar begins by opening formally. It is known as a strophe. An antistrophe then follows the sequence. It ends with an epode. An epode is a long stanza with a different metrical structure than the rest.

The Horatian ode is also formal but to a lesser extent than the Pindaric ode. It is formed using a recurring stanza pattern. It might be utilized to address a particularly good effect if you are working on a humorous ode.

Irregular Form for Freedom

Do you feel that classical structure is not your cup of tea? Then, the irregular form might suit you. This provides you a chance to experiment with the meter and rhyming patterns. You can do this while maintaining the theme and tone of a classical ode. However, try to remain consistent throughout. Switching from one structure in the same ode is not recommended.

Determine the Length of your Ode

These are typically poems but longer. If, for example, you are about to write about your feelings, it should not be challenging to come up with plenty of things to say. A classic ode comprises at least four stanzas, but you can change it according to your liking.

Determine Your Rhyme Scheme

Although it is not necessary that odes have a rhyme, but the majority of them do follow some rhyme scheme. If you are going with the irregular form, you get the freedom to choose whatever scheme you want. One thing to keep in mind is being consistent.

You can note the rhymes on the sides of the paper. If you aim to rhyme every other line of a four-line stanza, you can write "ABAB." This will indicate that the first line rhymes with the third line and the second line rhymes with the fourth line.

Crafting Your Ode

It is time you start the writing process. Here is the process you can follow.

Tap into Your Emotion

Try to completely immerse yourself in the selected subject once you sit down to write. Concentrate and try to eliminate the distractions. How can you do that? Well, there is no single solution. Different techniques work for different people. You can try meditating or listening to soothing music before starting the process. Get in the right state of mind before starting your ode poem.

Brainstorm Associations and Descriptions

Odes are often heavy on metaphors, similes, and imagery. Imagine the subject and start jotting down the words that pop up in your mind right away. For instance, if the object at hand is a coffee maker, the first words to come to your mind may be the aroma, dark, bold, rich, and steamy. Try to bring a comparison such as how you can relate the coffee grounds to the soil or the earth.

Identify Your Subject Throughout

A traditional ode initiates by stating the name of the subject the poem is about. It is usually preceded by the word"oh." This can be repeated when a new stanza begins or throughout the ode sporadically.

It depends on you how specific you want this to be. If we retake the coffee maker's example, you can either address it by naming its brand or start writing poetry with "Oh, coffee machine." Also, keep in mind your rhyming scheme. Choose words that are easier to rhyme.

Address Your Subject Directly

An ode is a literary piece with an audience of one- the subject you are honoring, thanking, or praising. The actual readers might be other people but do not forget that you are still referring to the object even if you use the second-person pronoun.

This might be challenging if the subject of the ode is an inanimate object. Understandably, you will not be in the habit of conversing with it. Keep repeating the first line. It might help you to stay focused.

Weave Your Ideas Together

Now you must be armed with several images, adjectives, and verbs. It is time to organize them in a cohesive form and create a story through lyric poetry. While going through the list of these words, you might start making sense automatically. Observe how some words will lead to another and can be used in the extension.

It might be easier to work on pieces of this ode one at a time and then weave them together. Starting and ending it in just one session can be quite exhaustive.

Edit Your Work

The first draft should never be the last one. Now that you are done writing the first copy, set it aside for at least a few hours. Go, take a break. Once you feel relaxed, come back and read the ode out aloud. There will be better chances for you to point out any areas that need clarification or smoothing. Also, check your work for grammatical and spelling errors. You should also ensure that the rhyming scheme is correctly used throughout.

While you are writing, ensure that you do not lose sight of the bigger picture. Always trace it back to the topic to make sure everything is in perspective. It is an excellent opportunity for you to express ideas that you might generally breeze past. This might be challenging, but never forget to have fun while writing your ode. It is a golden opportunity to meditate, express how you feel, and also discover yourself.

Angelina Grin
Creative Writer and Blog Editor

Work, study, play, party, love, move, go, improve.