EIF Poetry Challenge #3: The Ode

The Ode as a poetic form dates back to Ancient Greece, where it was devised as a song to be performed by a choir, and accompanied by dance. Wikipedia describes it as: ‘an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally.’

I also found the following definition in the Encyclopaedia Britannica which I rather like:

Ode, ceremonious poem on an occasion of public or private dignity in which personal emotion and general meditation are united.’

The Ode in English

Odes have been composed in English since at least the time of Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), whose Epithalamion and Prothalamion are some the earliest examples of the form in English.

The form rose to prominence in the 18th-19th Centuries. One of my favourite English Odes, and also one of my favourite poems, is Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, composed in 1804.

Perhaps the most famous and celebrated Odes in the English language are Keats’s Five Great Odes of 1819: Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on Melancholy, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to Psyche, and To Autumn.

The Challenge

Taking inspiration from the above examples, compose an Ode on any subject. It does not have to follow any strict rhyming scheme or metre, but it should be written in celebration or praise of something, or someone, important to you.

To ensure impartiality, this fortnight’s challenge will be judged by last fortnight’s winner, Hannah Stewart of A Little Bit of Happiness.

I’ve decided to give my version of an Ode the lighthearted treatment, and due to its slightly frivolous subject matter it is only two stanzas long, but nevertheless to set the ball rolling, here’s my contribution:

Ode to my Morning Cup of Tea

My brain aches, and a hazy fog hangs on my mind
As if I had not slept for weeks, or years;
The pain increases, to my mood unkind
And to my weary eyes, new stung with tears
Though not of sadness, only longed-for sleep
Whose memory still hangs about my person
The call and comfort of my bed cuts deep
Rendering hard the task of my emersion
Until the blessed kettle boils and then
I fill my cup; am human once again.

Oh, longed-for taste of tannins on my tongue
Watered with purest mountain minerals
For you my weary mind has strived and longed
To ease my path into the new day’s trials
The quenching peacefulness of sweet infusion
Slips down my throat with gracefulness and ease
The art of making tea is no illusion
The troubled mind to soothe, the heart to please:
And when I have the cup drunk to the lees
With the world and myself I make my peace.

The deadline for entries is midnight, CET on Monday, 10 August 2020. You can enter by making a blog post linking back to the challenge and adding the link to the comments below, on Twitter @Experimentsinfc, or by email to experimentsinfiction@protonmail.com. Results will be announced on 11 August 2020. Have fun!

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