Review: Odes of Keats and Shelley.


I love the expression that the Ode allows a poem flows. I think of odes as a river flows down, from the first line to the last that carries the poem’s totality. I will bring two poems written by masters of the ode poetry: John Keats and Percy Shelley.
There is a relationship in these poems: ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats and ‘Ode to the West Wind’ by Percy Shelley. Odes are poems of praise, and their panegyric nature allows room for expressions on long lines, and rich diction. The flow of the lines allows enjambment, because of great expression of syntax and words that praise and adorn the subject each poem expresses.
I love these lines in ‘To Autumn’ by Keats that reads thus:

‘Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…’

That second line carries a shock, how can the qualities of human beings be given to an inanimate ‘Autumn?’ And, the third line that uses the verb ‘conspiring’ as if Autumn is an antagonist that conspires to usurp a king…
Sometimes the poet uses rhetorical question to even add to the praise the poem is rich with. The sentences are used powerfully to enrich the ‘Autumn’, and it’s like the weather stays in its store with pride as Keats lush this poem with rich sentences.
The lines and sentences are like cement and sand admixed to create the blocks that builds the poem.
These qualities also, can be found in Shelly’s ‘Ode to the West Wind.’ The poem is arranged in tercet: three-line-poem. The first three lines or stanza attests to this:

‘O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing…’

The sentences and lines are powerful with words, wet with it like Keats’ rich ‘Autumn’. Only that Shelley follows his tercet, grouping the lines in three. Shelly’s ode is beautiful, graceful and green like a field evergreen. Every line has its striking words or phrase that explodes with entertainment and expansion.
There is great admiration in the lines, the sentence allows it so. Even the poet falls to the incredible power and force of the West Wind, with these expression:

‘If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee…’

The thing about these lines is that, they contain carefully chosen diction that makes the sentence bring out the beauty of each lines. Every word that exists to form this poem was carefully chosen.

This must be the reason these poems have endured into our times, because of their styles, and have kept their creators in the eternal hall of fame, of poetry.


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