What are some similarities and differences between an ode and an elegy?    

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rmhope's profile pic

rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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An elegy is similar to an ode, but it has certain differences. Elegies and odes are both traditional verse forms that include honor or praise. Both have roots in ancient Greece, with the ode going back to the Greek poet Pindar, who lived in the 5th century B.C. The stanza length and form may vary in both elegies and odes, but traditional metrical rhyming lines are typical of both. 

An elegy differs from an ode in that it specifically commemorates a person, or possibly a group of people, who have died. An ode, on the other hand, is written to praise a person or thing that has inspired the poet. Alternatively, an ode may be written as a result of an intense emotion the poet feels because of something that has happened in his or her life, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode." While an ode focuses exclusively on its single emotional topic, whether celebration or reflection, the elegy has a prescribed pattern through which it progresses. First the elegy describes the grief and mourning the poet and others feel at the passing of the person about whom the elegy is composed. This is called the lament. Then the poet moves on to heap lavish praise upon the dead person, often with great hyperbole. Finally, the elegy moves to a section of consolation and comfort for the bereaved.

While an elegy and an ode are similar in that they both contain high praise and are traditional and ancient poetic forms, an elegy specifically deals with honoring someone who has died and has a three-part progression that is not part of an ode.


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englishteacher72's profile pic

englishteacher72 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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This is a good question.  To answer this question in the simplest way, an elegy is a poem that's written as a reflection on someone who has died.  It is often described as a poem of mourning. A famous elegy is "Adonais", by Percy Bysshe Shelley.   An ode, on the other hand, is usually about someone or something that is still living and has inspired the poet.  It is a poem that's used to celebrate something.  One famous ode is John Keats' poem, "Ode to a Nightingale".  Keats is probably the most popular example of a poet who wrote odes.  For similarities, both of these are examples of poetry, and they are both commonly referred to as lyric poems.  Also, they usually deal with one subject that has inspired them.

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