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Poetry Competitions UK
14 Jun 2011

How to Write an Irregular Ode

An ode is a lyrical verse and its name comes from the Greek aeidein, which means to sing or chant. An ode is typically written in praise of, or as a dedication, to someone or something that captures the poet's interest or is an inspiration for their ode.

There are three typical types of odes: the Pindaric ode, the Horatian ode and the Irregular ode. In this poetry writing workshop we're looking at the structure of the Irregular ode.

The Irregular ode was created by Abraham Cowley in the 17th Century. The Irregular ode imitates the Pindaric ode style of serious subject matter, but abandons the repeated triad structure and allows each stanza to be individual in its creation. Stanzas vary in number of lines, line length and rhyme scheme.

Here is an example of an Irregular ode by William Wordsworth:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;-
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day, The things which I have seen
I now can see no more.

The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.

Whether you choose to imitate William Wordsworth's style, or take your own inspiration for the irregular ode format, the ode is an excellent addition to any poet's repertoire.

If you've enjoyed this poetry writing workshop on odes, do have a look at the Horatian Ode and Pindaric Ode workshops we also have in our poetry writing workshop section.

Why not submit your poem for one of our poetry competitions - simply use the poetry competition upload or email your submission to us at inbox@forwardpoetry.co.uk.

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