Experiments in Form Part 8: The Ode

The next form for me to tackle is the ode. Odes are more versatile than most poetic forms. Quite a few forms of poem contain odes within them, and there are no particular rules about how many stanzas an ode must contain (except that there needs to be more than one). I have used as my model Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale”, mostly because it seems the clearest and neatest type of ode to write. The rhyming scheme is ABABCDECDE, which has a nice balance of variety and consistency to it, and it also contains a shorter eighth line (three feet compared to the four feet of the other lines) which also adds variety to the poem’s flow.

Odes are typically written in praise or celebration of something. There is nothing better to praise than God, and no expression of praise grander than heaven. And so I have taken heaven as the topic for my first attempt at an ode.


Bring us at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music.
(John Donne)

Let me join that equal music;
Let me join the chorus pouring
From the singing ones, once homesick,
Now at home, in grace restoring
All our broken chords and voices,
All our dissonance and scales.
Look: the music swells in union
And the choir rejoices
Now to sing the song of equals,
All our notes perfect companions.

Let me shake the hands of old friends,
Hug my enemies and brothers
While this music transforms and mends
How we loved some, hated others.
Let the cloud of witnesses take
All of us into its bright storm;
Let it swell around us while our
Voices tremble and quake!
Let me join that music’s rich swarm,
Equal in His perfect power.

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