The Ericksons

Write an Ode to Creativity


Ode to a Nightingale

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is O for Write an Ode.

What exactly is an ode?

It’s a tribute—an emotionally over-the-top tribute to something or someone (or even an abstract concept).  It can be free-form, but more often is set to a pattern of the writer’s choosing.

How does writing an ode—or any poetry make you more creative?

Poetry strengthens your language skills and pushes you to dig deep within yourself to help you best express your emotions. Often, in poetry, you will use symbolism, imagery and metaphors. It can also be very therapeutic, releasing blocks to your creativity. Doing this activity will challenge you. I recommend that you come up with short stanzas for different people and things throughout your day.

When is the last time you wrote an ode?

It’s not as hard as it John Keats makes it sound.

Decide what or who you want to praise.

It could be anything. It might be easier if it’s something you genuinely care about. But for this exercise, it could also be something as simple as your morning cup of coffee. To get into the mood you could brainstorm all of the aspects of that person or thing that you could talk about.

Coffee= Steamy, brown, liquid, energy, in a cup, bitter, sweet, creamy, hot, roasted, nutty

Choose a pattern of rhythm and rhyme that you want to use.

The great thing about odes is that they don’t lock you into specific rules the way other types of poetry like sonnets or haiku do. You actually don’t need to rhyme at all—or write with a specific rhythm. It can be great to use one of these elements, or both. If you do decide to use rhythm and/or rhyme, use whatever pattern you come up with consistently throughout the entire poem. Another thing you will want to do is speak directly to what or whoever you are writing the ode for. Odes are traditionally quite long. I will share one stanza to show you an example that I wrote about my coffee. There is often a line that is repeated throughout the poem. I would use the first line and repeat it in the beginning of every stanza.

An example of a 5 line stanza:

Oh coffee, how I need you.

You steam my senses with energy

I pour you into my cup

But a sip of your brown liquid

Wakes my sleepy brain up

In the spring of 1819, John Keats heard a nightingale sing. He was so inspired by the bird’s song that he composed Ode to a Nightingale in one day. These are the last 20 lines on the 80 line tribute to a plain brown bird with a beautiful song.

Ode to a Nightingale Verses 60-80

Write an Ode
By W. J. Neatby (1860-1910) , via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 65

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

The same that ofttimes hath

Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam

Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 70

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell

To toll me back from thee to my sole self!

Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well

As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 75

Past the near meadows, over the still stream,

Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades:

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?

Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep? 80

Biblical Odes

This definition brings up the obvious question of whether there are odes in the Bible. There ARE! Here are a few:

Exodus 15:1-19                    The (First) Song of Moses

Deuteronomy 32:1-43          The (Second) Song of Moses

1 Samuel 2:1-10                   The Prayer of Hannah

Habakkuk 3:1-19                  The Prayer of Habakkuk

Isaiah 26:9-20                     The Prayer of Isaiah

Jonah 2:2-9                         The Prayer of Jonah

Luke 1:46-55                       The Magnificat

Luke 1:68-79                       The Song of Zacharias

Another example of a famous ode is “Ode to Joy.” Poet Friedrich Schiller first published this ode in 1766. Then in 1824, Composer Ludwig van Beethoven set it to music in his Ninth Symphony.

While you’re here, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

11 comments on “Write an Ode to Creativity

I can’t say I’ve ever given any thought to odes, Heather. But I do love to learn new things and this is no exception. Thanks for doing the research, sharing the information, and providing steps simple enough that I can imagine trying to write an ode. I’m having a weird frazzled sort of day today but before the week’s out, I might just give ode-writing a go.

Oh my. I must try this. I think it’ll be way more sarcastic than called for, though…

I’ll try writing one to something benign first. Like my pillow that keeps me comfortable at night. Then hopefully I can progress to something more profound sometime down the road.

Emily In Ecuador

Hi Liz. I have to laugh. Our family has a pretty sarcastic sense of humor, so I think there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, sarcasm is very creative. Shakespear had a sarcastic wit and look how popular he remains. Have fun with it!

Hi Karen. I used to be more poetic as a young person, but this is no longer my forte. It was a fun exercise to try though and raised my awareness of both the beauty in the simple things (gratitude) and the ability of poetry to lift the mood. Have fun with it. Hopefully, your week will get easier!

I’m definitely tempted to write an ode to the sun today – after days of rain, then snow, I’m willing to pen an emotionally over-the-top tribute to Old Sol.

I love Ode to Joy – never thought of writing my own ode to anything though. It’s been a very long time since I waxed lyrical. Maybe it’s time to give it some thought.

Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
P for Practice makes Perfect

Hi Leanne, I think we feel naturally more poetic in our youth. Maybe age and experience best it out of us. If that’s the case, writing an ode has to be somewhat therapeutic in combating the jaded Monday that too often accompanies middle age. I guess I’d better go write an ode, now. 😉

Hi Emily. Right now, I feel like writing an ode to my bed. We just got a good one that has made a huge difference in our ability to get a good night’s sleep. So, an ode to your pillow would be awesome. Also, thank you for the head’s up on my bad link.

I did not know that Ode to Joy was a poem first! I’ll drink a cup of coffee with cream to your coffee ode!

Hi Lee. It was fun to learn that about Ode to Joy. We had that played at our wedding, so it was fun to learn.

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