How to Format Ode Poems

By Verity Jones
Keats is a poet who wrote many odes.

Ode poems date back to the time before Horace, which was around 65 BC. Essentially, it is a long set of lyrics or poem. An ode is often elaborate in style and in praise of a person, place or thing. The ode consists of a number of stanzas, or verses, containing dense description that enables the reader to really visualize the subject matter. Although, there are not strict rules for writing an ode, it does have a basic format to follow.

Read poems, odes and lyrics. Develop your understanding on how poems use language to convey emotion and description. For example, review Keat's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" or "Ode to a Nightingale" for inspiration.

Assess what style of ode you want to write. The Pindaric Ode form consists of three stanzas. The first two stanzas use the same rhythm and rhyme sequence, while the third stanza uses a different form. This format is then repeated throughout the ode for each trio of verses. More simplistically, a Horace ode repeats the same structure for each stanza. Finally, a irregular ode consists of stanzas but there is not distinctive structure or repetition throughout.

Identify the subject matter you want to write about in your ode. It should be celebratory in style, or pay tribute to something particularly something or someone you have admiration for.

Write the first stanza of the ode. Make it between four and six lines long. Communicate one idea every few lines. But each idea should be very description and use adjectives or draw similarities between things. The ode should give the idea life and color.

Personify objects; in other words give an object a personality, thoughts or feelings. For example, "the sunset smiled at me," gives the sun a human characteristic. You could also imagine you were talking to an object like a human and use this thought in your ode, such as "Oh red wine stain! How I wish I had but a drop of bleach to rid you!"

Tip

Feel relaxed and free as you write your ode. The format and structure will come naturally as you practice.

About the Author

Verity Jones is an English literature graduate who has been writing for over five years. Her work has been featured in local publications, national parenting magazines and online portals such as You and Your Family, and Mum Plus One. Jones holds a qualification in interior design.