The Value of Form: Tracing the Ode from the Greeks to the Romantics
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While the poetic form of the ode has survived for over two thousand years, it has only shown up as a major poetic form during three specific time periods: Pindar and the ancient Greeks, Horace and the Roman Empire, and the British Romantics of the 19th century. The form of the ode has changed with each use, depending on how the poet has employed it to suit his particular poetic aspiration. What has remained the same were certain formal elements of the ode, the elements that were most important in creating an experience of community. There is a community created within the experience of the ode between the poet and audience, who are both mutually engaged in the ode?s creation and execution. The difficulty of the language and structure of the ode, dependent on emotional rather than logical unity, is necessary to pull in the engagement of both parties, and also to accommodate the varied experience that the ode is both invoking and creating simultaneously. The ode has been adapted and utilized by so many poets because of its communal aspects, and it is these shared features that make the ode such an important poetic and communal experience. When engaged fully by both poet and audience, the shared experience of the ode becomes a conduit for the nature of community, merging the known and the unknown into a common sphere that can be accessed by all who are willing to be surrounded by its celebratory nature.