What is an Ode in Literature? Definition, Examples of Literary Odes

Ode definition in literature: Odes are defined as serious poems that are focused on subject matter that is noble or dignified.

What is an Ode in Literature?

Odes are serious poems in which the subject is noble or dignified. The topic of the poem is presented in manner that is calm and peaceful.

Example of an Ode

John Keat’s “Ode to a Nightingale” is an example of this form of poetry.

“Darkling I listen; and, for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful Death,

Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,

To take into the air my quiet breath;

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,

While thou are pouring forth thy soul abroad

In such an ecstasy!”

Types of Ode

Pindaric: The Pindaric ode is divided into three triads: strophe, antistrophe, and an epode. The strophe and antistrophe will follow the same stanza structure and the epode will have its own.

  • An example of a Pindaric ode is “The Progress of Poesy” by Thomas Gray.

Horatian: The Horatian ode often is composed of stanzas that are of the same length and follow a rhyme pattern and meter.

  • An example of the Horatian ode is John Keat’s “To Autumn”.

Irregular: The irregular ode follows no stanza pattern or rhyme scheme, and this allows the poet a great freedom in composing this type of poem.

  • The poem “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” by William Wordsworth is an example of an irregular ode.

Examples of Odes in Literature

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is known for writing odes. Here is an excerpt of his piece “Dejection: An Ode:”

“A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,

A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,

Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,

In word, or sigh, or tear—“

As mentioned above, William Wordsworth also wrote several odes. This example comes from his poem “Ode to Duty:”

“Serene will be our days and bright,

And happy will our nature be,

When love is an unerring light,

And joy its own security.”

The Function of Ode in Literature

Odes function as a form of poetry in which the poet may convey his ideas regarding certain themes or significant subjects such as humanity and the emotions. By using stylistic techniques such as structure stanzas, meter, or rhyme scheme, the poet is able to portray his ideas regarding these subjects in a sophisticated manner and with masterful use of words in an elegant style.

Summary: What are Odes?

Define Ode in Literature: An ode is a poem in which the poet explores significant subject matter in a calm, elegant style.

Final Example:

The below excerpt is from John Keats’ “Ode to Psyche””

“And in the midst of this wide quietness

A rosy sanctuary will I dress

With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,

With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,

With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign,

Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:

And there shall be for thee all soft delight

That shadowy thought can win,

A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,

To let the warm Love in!”