6 Tips for Writing an Ode

An ode is a poem that is about one specific thing that you think is truly amazing and praiseworthy. This type of poem can be centered upon a person, an object, or something abstract like a feeling or an idea. Here are some tips to help you get started if you’re interested in writing an ode (and be sure to check out awesome ode examples on Power Poetry!):

  1. Just get emotional. What really makes you emotional, either in a positive or negative way? Think of a person, concept, place or thing that you are deeply connected to. This will be a potential topic for your ode. Remember, an ode is focused on the many nuances of a single thing, so make sure that whatever you pick is something that you feel strongly about, so you have enough to write.
  2. If you feel something, say something. When someone brings up the thing you have chosen to write about in conversation, how do you react? Write down what you would say in such a situation, and even more importantly, how you would (or do) feel. You may end up needing many words that have the same definition or meaning, so checking out a thesaurus can be hugely useful.
  3. Size matters. How long do you want your poem to be? Odes are traditionally very long, and chances are, if you’ve picked a topic you really feel passionately about, you will have a lot to write. Start by splitting up your poem into groups, or stanzas, of ten lines. Many traditional odes have three to five of these stanzas, but if you want to write more, by all means do!
  4. To rhyme or not to rhyme? Do you want your poem to rhyme? Most odes do, and making your ode rhyme would be a fun challenge, but you can also write irregular odes, which don't have to rhyme or maintain a perfect rhythm. If you do decide to make your ode rhyme, think about how you want to format the rhyme scheme of this poem. You can make every two lines or every other line rhyme. A certain kind of popular ode uses a more complicated pattern. You can also make up your own pattern -- just commit to it, and use it in every stanza of your ode.
  5. Share your poem! If your ode is written about a particular person, you could give it to them as a gift. You can recite your ode, or put it to music and sing it. Don't forget to share it with your community here at Power Poetry -- post your ode so we know what matters to you!
  6. AND....Don't forget that your options for how you might create or change an ode are pretty infinite. One of our favorite examples is this: the poet Friedrich Schiller first published his "Ode to Joy" in 1766. Composer Ludwig van Beethoven set it to music in his Ninth Symphony in 1824. Clergyman and author Henry van Dyke wrote the poem "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" in 1907 intending for it to be a hymn sung over the music of Beethoven's Ninth. And in 1993, that hymn was adapted into a song for a gospel choir and performed by Lauryn Hill in the movie Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. So there you go!

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