Odes

Introduction:  Odes are one of my favorite forms of poetry.  Odes can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece! In those days odes were normally accompanied with music.  Odes relate to the High Tech High community for many reasons. First, High Tech Middle Media Arts understands the importance of recognizing people for positive things that they do and expressing our love and appreciation for others, which is what an Ode poem is all about.

Brief history of Odes: Odes are poems that express personal and emotional feelings. Ode comes from the Greek word aeidein, which means to sing or chant.  There are three types of Odes: Pindaric, Horatian, and Irregular.  The Pindaric form of poetry is named after an ancient Greek poet named Pindar who is largely credited with creating Odes.  There are three typical types of odes: the Pindaric, Horatian, and Irregular. The Pindaric is named for the ancient Greek poet Pindar, who is credited with inventing the ode. Pindaric odes were performed with a chorus and dancers, and often composed to celebrate athletic victories. They contain a formal opening, or strophe, of complex metrical structure, followed by an antistrophe, which mirrors the opening, and an epode, the final closing section of a different length and composed with a different metrical structure.  You will not have to follow the traditional forms of odes this semester!

Pablo Neruda:  Pablo Neruda is one of my favorite poets! Pablo Neruda was born Ricardo Eliecer Neali Reyes in Southern Chile on July 12 1904.  He would later change his name to Pablo Neruda. Neruda wrote poems in different genres but I think he is particular gifted at writing Odes and we will focus on the odes of Pablo Neruda to see what odes should LOOK like, SOUND like, and FEEL like.  We will use two books to study the odes of Neruda.  The first book is called Selected odes of Pablo Neruda and the second is Love – Ten poems by Pablo Neruda. The following is an excerpt from the Translator’s Introduction in Selected odes of Pablo Neruda:

The Spanish qualifier elemental is equivalent in English to both “elemental” and “elementary.”  The poems sing of the elements and evoke nature.  They praise fundamental and essential subjects. Neruda once said, “I confess what to write with simplicity has been my most difficult undertaking.   What I like is to change tones, seek out all possible sounds, pursue every color, and look for life forces where they may be.  My poetry became clear and happy when it branched off toward humbler subjects and things.” Here are two snippets of poems by Pablo Neruda that I found to be striking.

How to write an Ode:

An Ode is a poem where you praise an object that is special or valued.  Here are some steps for planning and writing an ode:

  1. 1.    Planning Your Ode:
    1. Choose a subject matter.  Consider the subject matter that you wish to write about, and remember that beauty can be found in the least expected places.  Your subject should be something that you absolutely love and adore.  You should find it beautiful, even if no one else does.  BRAINSTORM:

i.     What makes your subject beautiful )Visually, emotionally, spiritually, etc.)

ii.     What does it smell like? Feel like? Sound like?

iii.     What are its wonderful uses?

iv.     Why does it make you happy?

v.     What does it remind you of?

vi.     When do you use/need this subject?

vii.     How does it make your life better?

  1. Use Metaphor/Simile: Compare the object or events in life that your readers can relate to.  Develop precise and yet surprising connections for your readers.  Help them visualize how special your subject is by comparing it to other images.
  2. Visualize a Context: Decide on a scene (setting) that will begin with the poem and set up the ode so that it will help readers understand how you came to have/known the subject matter.  Who gave it to you? Where did you first see it/find it?
  3. Plan the Structure of the Ode.  Decide how many lines each stanza will contain. Decide how many stanzas will make up the ode, realizing that most odes are serious poems comprised of several stanzas.  Decide on a rhyme scheme (or choose free verse)
  4. 2.    Writing Your Ode:
    1. Plan the Structure:  Fit the ideas from your planning process into phrases and stanzas.  Use a thesaurus to discover synonyms for word that may not fit the structure and rhyme scheme of your ode.  Don’t expect to write the ode in one sitting.  Good poems are short works that usually require multiple revisions and edits
    2. Read and Revise.  Read your draft aloud to see if it flows easily and makes sense.  Shift words and phrases around to make it sound better.  Add alliteration and internal rhymes to strengthen it.  Allow other people to critique your ode. Eliminate words that make the poem sound clumsy.  Prepare to rewrite an ode several times until it is well crafted and powerful
Here is a sample ODE by Pablo Neruda called “ODE TO A COUPLE”
My Queen, how beautiful
to follow the path of
your small footprints,
how beautiful to see
your eyes
everywhere I look,
how beautiful your face
greeting each new day,
and sinking
every night
into the ame
fragment
of shadow.
How beautiful
to see
time running
like the sea
breaking over the prow.

Here is sample poem by Pablo Neruda called “Ode to My Socks”

Mara Mori brought me

A pair of socks

Which she knitted herself

With her sheepherder’s hands,

Two socks as soft as rabbits.

I slipped my feet into them

As if they were two cases

Knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin

Violent socks,

My feet were two fish made of wool,

Two long sharks

Sea blue, short through

By one golden thread,

Two immense blackbirds,

Two cannons,

My feet were honored in this way

By these heavenly socks.

They were so handsome for the first time

My feet seemed to me unacceptable

Like two decrepit firemen,

Firemen unworthy of that woven fire,

Of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation

To save them somewhere as schoolboys

Keep fireflies,

As learned men collect

Sacred texts,

I resisted the mad impulse to put them

In a golden cage and each day give them birdseed and pieces of pink melon.

Like explorers in the jungle

Who hand over the very rare green deer

To the spit and eat it with remorse,

I stretched out my feet and pulled on

The magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:

Beauty is twice beauty

And what is good is double good

When it is a matter of two socks

Made of wool in winter.

Challenge Activity:

Write an Ode with the Following Pattern – ABABACDDC… meaning that the first, third, and fifth lines rhyme, and the second and fourth rhyme, and so on.

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