The Ode: Pondering Praise in a Cynical Age

Image by Javier Armendariz via stock.xchng
Image by Javier Armendariz via stock.xchng

These days it is too easy to distrust the ode. This emotion-filled poetic form celebrating everything from a sporting event to a vase practically begs for satire. I am picturing something along the lines of Homer Simpson in a toga reciting Ode to a Jelly Donut, beams of light streaming down from above, and a Greek chorus – arms linked – singing the responsive antistrophe.

But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it, to make fun of a thing I don’t fully understand? I would rather not give in to cynicism. I would rather continue the quest I began two years ago, my “attempt to engage with the Greats, those ‘others’ whom I have sadly neglected – or simply peripherally enjoyed.” That attempt has taken on a number of forms over the past two years, with a focus on specific poets and their poetry.

This year, the Muses have agreed to play along with yet another iteration of this poetic dialog. Each month will be dedicated to the exploration of a particular poetic form. And so, this being January – a month when we tend to celebrate and laud and become resolute in our idealism – I thought it appropriate to train our sites on one of the most idealistic of poetic forms, the ode.

I also invite you, Reader, to share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section. Join us in this journey to discover more about this poetic form. If you have written your own Ode to a Jelly Donut (or chocolate cruller) you’d like to share here, please, by all means, do. If there is a thing or person or event that you think should be celebrated in an ode, issue the challenge here. And if you wish to respond to such a challenge… yes, this is the place.

While I make a bit of fun, I do believe what may be best about the ode is that it reminds us to think about excellent things, things worthy of praise.

And that is no jelly donut.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 


5 thoughts on “The Ode: Pondering Praise in a Cynical Age

  1. Bethany says:

    Yay! I absolutely love this optimistic endeavor. I could use more ponderings on the noble and the lovely. And what a great stragtegy to be exploring a new poetic form each month. I’m thinking about this challenge of writing or submitting an idea for an ode. I’ll be thinking…

  2. Bethany says:

    Now I want to get my hands on some good odes to read. What would you say are maybe three that you keep coming back to or enjoy most?

    1. Kelly Belmonte says:

      Bethany, I saw your challenge to write an ode on balance (on FB). That’s a good one! Any takers? Regarding odes I come back to, John Keats’s Ode on Melancholy is one. I’m not sure if Pied Beauty (G.M. Hopkins) is considered an Ode, but it is a celebration (of dappled things) that I come back to often. Anyone else have go-to odes for Bethany?

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