10 Ode Examples to Explore

The ode pays homage to a person or item, and these ode examples will help you understand this poetry type.

An ode is a common type of poem in the English language. It is a lyric poem that addresses one particular subject in an elevated way.

In other words, an ode praises an individual, object or event. This poetry style comes from Ancient Greece and Rome, but it carries over into modern English writing as well.

To better understand what an ode is, take a look at these top ode examples. 

Top ode examples to explore

1. “The Odes” by Horace

The Roman poet Horace actually wrote a collection of four books of Latin lyrical poetry, and his poetic form has set the stage for other ode poetry. As a result, his books are first on the list of best ode examples, because in a way he was the father of this poetic device.

The Horatian ode is a lyric poem that has two or four-line stanzas with the same meter, length, and rhyme scheme. His odes tend to talk about daily life, rather than lofty and formal themes.

“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
(Pluck the day [for it is ripe], trusting as little as possible in tomorrow.)”

Horace

2. “Olympian Ode 1” by Pindar

The ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote odes to the athletic victories of Olympians, and his literary works are a bit challenging to read. However, they deserve a spot in this list because of their contributions to the genre. The ancient Greeks often sang these odes to victorious athletes after the games were done.

Pindar’s odes became one of the main types of odes, known for strict use of strophe (two or more lines repeated as a unit), antistrophe (thematic counterbalance to the strophe) and epode (a conclusion with its own meter and length). They also have irregular line lengths and rhyme patterns. 

“Creatures for a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of heaven”

Pindar

3. “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” by William Wordsworth

One of the best-known of Wordsworth’s poems, “Ode on Imitations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” looks at how a child moves from innocence and a love of nature to adulthood, losing that connection. 

The ode has no clear rhyme scheme and has 11 stanzas with varying lengths. It uses several different patterns to set the mood of the piece.

“The Rainbow comes and goes,
                      And lovely is the Rose,
                      The Moon doth with delight
       Look round her when the heavens are bare”

William Wordsworth

4.  “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ode examples: "Ode to the West Wind" by Percy Bysshe Shelley
After Amelia Curran, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Written by English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind” speaks of the west wind being a force of death and decay. As the speaker writes, he welcomes death and the coming rejuvenation that it brings.

Shelley masterfully weaves alliteration into his poem as he talks about the “wild West Win.” It uses terza rima, a form of poetry that has three-line stanzas with the first and third line rhyming. 

“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

5. “Ode to the Confederate Dead” by Allen Tate

In “Ode to the Confederate Dead,” poet and critic Allen Tate pays homage to the Confederate soldiers buried in a Southern graveyard. It is not simply an ode, either. It also serves as a metaphor for the poet’s own troubled mind.

This is a long poem that has 14 distinct movements. It contains quite a bit of reflection not only on the soldiers but also on the grave and death itself. 

“Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves”

Allen Tate

6. “The Progress of Poesy” by Thomas Gray

In “The Progress of Poesy,” Thomas Gray creates a Pindaric ode form poem with three triads. Each triad has a strophe, antistrophe and epode. 

This poem praises nature and art and focuses heavily on poetry as an art form. It speaks to the role English poems have had on growing poetry as a form of literature. 

“Awake, aeolian lyre, awake,
And give to rapture all they trembling strings.
From Helicon’s harmonious springs
A thousand rills their mazy progress take.”

Thomas Gray

7. “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

Ode examples: Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats
William Hilton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

John Keats was a master of the Horatian ode, and “Ode to a Nightingale” is one such example. This poem follows a typical ten-stanza pattern with varying meters throughout the ode. 

In “Ode to a Nightingale,” Keats reflects on emotions of pain and sorrow as he explores mortality and the tragedy of getting old. The nightingale is a reflection of immortality as its song continues to sing after the man is gone.

“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk”

John Keats

8. “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats

Another Keats poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” speaks to the pictures frozen in time on the sides of the urn. The speaker in the poem ponders what stories the people in those pictures could tell.

This poem is made up of five stanzas that are each ten lines long and follow an iambic pentameter meter carefully. They also use an ABABCDE rhyme scheme.

“Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:”

John Keats

9. “Ode to Autumn” by John Keats

Keats has yet another poem on this list. “Ode to Autumn” is the most anthologized English poem. It explores the beauty of the season and the melancholy mood that comes when fall makes the change into winter.

This ode has stanzas of 11 lines each and an ABAB rhymed quatrain pattern, followed by three unrhymed lines before picking back up with the new stanza. 

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;”

John Keats

10. “Ode on Solitude” by Alexander Pope

“Ode on Solitude” is the oldest known work of Alexander Pope. This Horatian ode explores how the speaker prefers solitude and hard work to a life full of company and luxury. 

This ode follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, with five stanzas of five lines each. 

“Happy the man, whose wish and care
   A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
                            In his own ground.”

Alexander Pope

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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