A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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Originated by Sappho and defined by Pindar and Horace, the lengthy, lyrical ode features elaborate stanza structures and stateliness in tone and style.

For nearly three millennia, the ode has been one of the most elaborate and dignified poetic expressions ever developed. Originally created to provide choral accompaniment to musical instruments, the ode evolved into a lyric poem that praised and glorified individuals, accomplishments, and victories, while also painting observant portraits of nature.

Greek drama
The ode was patterned after the movements of the chorus in Greek drama.
Rhyme: Varied
Structure: Unfixed number of four- to six-line stanzas
Measure/Beat: Varied, but iambic tetrameter is most common
Common Themes: Pindaric celebrates gods, events, experiences, other individuals; Horatian is deeply personal
Other Notes:
  • A stately, elaborate, and dignified treatment of a subject
  • Originally created by Greeks to provide choral accompaniment
  • Originally structured in three acts: strophe (one side of story), antistrophe (other side of story), and epode (review)