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What is an ode?

An ode is a lyric poem that praises the person or object it addresses.


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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

An ode is a formal lyric poem written as an address to a particular person or thing, typically one of praise that expresses dramatic emotions. Odes are characterized by irregular meter, variations in line lengths, and complex stanza forms. 

Ode comes from the Greek word ōidē, meaning “song,” from aeidein, meaning “to sing.”

Odes were a crucial component of ancient Greek dramas, in which they were sung by choruses. A form of ode called qaṣīdah was popular in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry and in Persian poetry. Odes regained popularity in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and remained popular through the early 20th century.

John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” and William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” are notable examples of odes. 

see: poetry

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