Ode – Concept, types of ode and examples

We explain what an ode is and the topics that this poetic composition usually covers. Also, the types of ode that exist and examples.

Any poetic text intended to be sung is called an ode.

What is an ode?

It is called an ode to a poetic composition in verse and the lyrical subgenre in which it is framed, characterized by a high tone, almost singing, and by addressing a religious, heroic, loving or philosophical theme, which contains a reflection of the poet. Its length is variable, as well as its metric and structure, which have changed along with poetry over the centuries.

In general, any poetic text destined to be sung is called an ode, since initially this genre (from Greek antiquity) was accompanied with music, and consisted of two aspects: choral and monody, sung by several voices or by a single one. , respectively.

It is common for odes to consist of an exaltation of certain values, so they are usually dedicated to the “great themes” of humanity: love, war, death, empires, pleasures, and so on. A perfect modern example is the Ode to joy composed by Ludwig van Beethoven from an original poetic text by Friedrich Schiller.

Other famous cultists of this poetic genre were the poets Píndaro (518-438 BC), Anacreonte (574-485 BC), Horacio (65-8 BC), Garcilaso de la Vega (1498-1536 AD), Fray Luis de León ( 1528-1591), Víctor Hugo (1802-1885) and Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), to name just a few examples.

Types of ode

There are many considerations regarding odes, as they have endured since ancient times. In general terms, they can be classified according to their theme and structure, as follows:

  • Pindáricas. The classic form of the ode, of regular rhyme and exalted themes, named after the poet Pindar of classical Greek antiquity.
  • Horacianas. Named for the work of Horacio, the most important Latin poet, they usually have an intimate tone and regular rhythm.
  • Anacreontic. Baptized in honor of Anacreon, a Greek poet who sang of love and eroticism, they are usually classical and focus on these themes.
  • Romantic Its name does not have to do with love and romance, but with Romanticism, an aesthetic movement that emerged in the 18th century and opposed to Rationalism and the Enlightenment. It is characterized by new ideas in the ode and a more emotional and subjective tone.
  • Sacred Those that deal with religious or mystical themes, such as praise to God and the experience of the divine.
  • Heroic. Those that sing the exploits of heroes, both ancient and modern.

Examples of oda

Some recognized odes are:

  • Anacreon’s “Ode II” (fragment)

The Supreme being in everything
(that God should be named)
with wise providence
perfection hands out;
gave the elements
remarkable fertility,
instinct gave to the beasts,
to the fish and birds,
understanding to man,
making him in his image,
and a free will,
with which he can lean
to him upright very honest,
useful, and delectable.

And what did he give to the Just Soul?
Grace, with which to rise
about perfections
and natural gifts:
what loving God achieves,
and loses by not loving him.

  • Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” (excerpt)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
daughter of the Elysee!
Drunk with ardor we penetrate,
celestial goddess, in your sanctuary!
Your spell rejoins
what the world had separated,
all men become brothers
where your soft wing rests.

Embrace each other, innumerable creatures!
This kiss around all world!
Brothers! On the starry vault
a loving Father has to live.

  • “Ode to Niagara” by José María Heredia (fragment)

Temper my lyre, give it to me, I feel
in my shaken and agitated soul
burn inspiration. Oh !! how long
in darkness it passed, without my forehead
shine with its light! … Niagara undoso;
your sublime terror could only
become the divine gift, that, fiercely,
the wicked hand stole my pain!
Prodigious torrent, calm, be quiet
your terrifying thunder; dissipates somewhat
the darkness that surrounds you;
let me contemplate your serene face
and with fiery enthusiasm my soul fills.

  • “Ode to socks” by Pablo Neruda (excerpt)

Violent socks,
my feet were two woolen fish,
two long sharks
ultramarine blue
crossed by a golden braid,
two gigantic blackbirds,
two cannons;
my feet were honored in this way
for these heavenly socks.

They were so beautiful that for the first time
my feet seemed unacceptable,
like two decrepit firefighters,
firefighters unworthy of that embroidered fire,
of those luminous socks.