12 Ode Examples to Explore

Discover our guide with ode examples and delve into the beautiful poetry dedicated to much-admired figures of history and the modern day. 

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 also carries over into modern English writing. Reading examples of odes can help you understand the meaning of these wonderful poems so that you can begin writing your own. Check out our guide with poems about life for more!

Top ode examples to explore

1. “The Odes” by Horace

The Roman poet Horace 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 with two or four-line stanzas with the same meter, length, and rhyme scheme. His odes 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.)”


2. “Olympian Ode 1” by Pindar

The ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote odes to the athletic victories of Olympians, and his literary works are 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 the 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”


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
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets

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 with three-line stanzas rhyming the first and third lines.

“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
John Keats was a world-famous poet and groundbreaking writer

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 reflects 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 comprises five stanzas, each ten lines long and follows 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

11. “Ode to Aphrodite” by Saphho

Ode to Aphrodite” is a beautiful lyric poem by the archaic Greek poet Saphho. It consists of seven Sapphic stanzas; these stanzas are four lines long, with the first three lines containing eleven syllables and the last containing five. This is a classic “Saphho” technique, which she is best known for. The ode is addressed to Aphrodite, where the speaker calls on her to help pursue her beloved. 

“Deathless Aphrodite, throned in flowers,

Daughter of Zeus, O terrible enchantress,

With this sorrow, with this anguish, break my spirit

Lady, not longer!

Hear anew the voice! O hear and listen!

Come, as in that island dawn thou camest,

Billowing in thy yoked car to Sappho

Forth from thy Father’s

Golden house in pity!”

12. “The Ship of State” by Horace

Horace is known for his odes and lyric poetry. One of the best examples of Horace’s signature poetic style is “The Ship of State,” where Horace addresses the ship directly, noting its power and struggle against the strength of the sea.

“O ship the fresh tide carries back to sea again.

Where are you going! Quickly, run for harbour.

Can’t you see how your sides

have been stripped bare of oars,

how your shattered masts and yards are groaning loudly

in the swift south-westerly, and bare of rigging,

your hull can scarce tolerate

the overpowering waters?”

Poetry Resources

10 Sonnet Examples From Ancient Italy To Today

Top 10 Haiku Examples To Ponder

10 Ballad Examples Everyone Should Learn

Top 10 Concrete Poem Examples

Top 10 Limerick Examples To Make You Laugh

Free Verse Examples: 12 Top Poems To Consider

Top 10 Ekphrastic Poem Examples

Villanelle Poem Examples To Study

Top 10 Epigram Examples