The Pindaric Ode Peace by Joanne Olivieri

The Pindaric Ode

One of my favorite styles of poetry is called the Pindaric Ode named after the Greek poet Pindar. It is basically an enthusiastic and elaborately designed lyric which was composed by the poet Pindar. It’s comprised of a strophe and anti strophe and epode. I know, it’s all Greek to me too. A strophe is a turning as a chorus moving to one side. An antistrophe is the counter-turn as the chorus moves in the opposite direction. An epode is a standing still of the chorus. These were all used in plays and choruses. In general terms or plain English the strophe would consist of four rhyming lines with the first and third lines rhyming and the second and fourth lines rhyming. The antistrophe consists of two exact rhymed lines followed by two short rhymed lines in contrast to the strophe. The epode is the ending which consists of one line rhyming with the two shorts. I know this is confusing so here is an example. This is a pindaric ode I wrote several years ago for a religious publication:


On thy lips fruit of the vine
Shall evoke a taste of shame
Martyred bloodshed cup of wine
Invisible in His name.

Thy wrath befell upon the sight
Of Devils’ chance to winged flight

Yet we
Shall see

Lion and lamb lie down with thee.

The most important elements are that the lines have an exact rhyme scheme with a lyrical intent. When you recite or hear a pindaric ode it should sound like a song. The master at writing Pindaric odes was John Donne. So make sure to read some of his work. It is difficult to pull off a rhyme scheme such as this without sounding like greeting card verse. In today’s markets, there really isn’t a huge demand for this type of writing however when I read poetry for pleasure, these are the patterns I read.


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