An elaborately formal lyric poem, often in the form of a lengthy ceremonious address to a person or abstract entity, always serious and elevated in tone. There are two different classical models: in Greek, the epinicion or choral ode of Pindar devoted to public praise of athletes (5th century BCE), and Horace’s more privately reflective odes in Latin ( c.23 – 13 BCE ). Pindar composed his odes for performance by a chorus , using lines of varying length in a complex three-part structure of strophe , antistrophe , and epode corresponding to the chorus’s dancing movements (see pindaric ), whereas Horace wrote literary odes in regular stanzas. Close English imitations of Pindar, such as Thomas Gray’s ‘The Progress of Poesy’ ( 1754 ), are rare, but a looser irregular ode with varying lengths of strophes was introduced by Abraham Cowley’s ‘Pindarique Odes’ ( 1656 ) and followed by John Dryden , William Collins , William Wordsworth (in ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’ ( 1807 )), and S. T. Coleridge , among others; this irregular form of ode is sometimes called the Cowleyan ode. Odes in which the same form of stanza is repeated regularly (see homostrophic ) are called Horatian odes: in English, these include the celebrated odes of John Keats , notably ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ and ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ (both 1820 ). Adjective: odic. For a fuller account, consult Carol Maddison , Apollo and the Nine: A History of the Ode ( 1960 ).
“ode” The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. New York University. 8 November 2010 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t56.e803>