English 9 Enriched: Odes for The Odyssey

Because of the change in curriculum, we no longer have a formal full-length poetry unit at this time.  In an effort to build poetry into the PARCC framework, I added lyric poems to The Odyssey unit.  The following is an assignment I gave surrounding odes after we had done the following prep work:

1- defined Pindaric and Horatian odes and the purpose of an ode altogether

2- read and analyzed the structure of “Ode to Aphrodite” by Sappho (example of Pindaric Ode)

3- read and analyzed the structure of “The Ship of State” by Horace (example of Horatian Ode)

4- read and analyzed the structure and the content of several odes from T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (“Macavity the Mystery Cat”, “The Rum Tum Tugger”, and “Mungojerry and Rumpleteezer”)

5- compared student analyses of Eliot poems (speaker, tone, mood) with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s interpretation of the same poems in the musical Cats.  Analyzed Webber’s characterization of each cat (speaker, tone, musical style, choreography, costuming, lighting) and justified his choices with textual evidence from Eliot’s poems.

Students then had to complete the following assignment:

Odes of The Odyssey

You have been writing an ode to one of the characters from Homer’s The Odyssey.  Remember that an ode has no set stanza structure or rhyme scheme, but odes ARE meant to be set to music.  That means that there must be some kind of rhythm to the poem.

You may choose your structure (quatrains, cinquains, etc…) and you may choose to have a rhyme scheme.  Since odes are meant to be songs containing emotion, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

1- Pindaric odes carry an elevated vocabulary because they are meant to be “production numbers,” so to speak.  The elevated vocabulary stems from the heightened emotion toward the person.

2- Pindaric odes have strophes and antistrophes… call and response (See “Ode to Aphrodite” by Sappho).

3- Horatian odes are more contemplative… thinking ABOUT something/someone that is not present, but wishing it were (See “The Ship of State” by Horace).

4- The vocabulary level of a Horatian ode is not as elevated as that of the Pindaric because the Horatian are not on as grand a scale.

THINK!  If you are going to write “Ode to Athena,” which style would best befit the Goddess of Wisdom: Pindaric or Horatian?  What about Poseidon?  Odysseus?  Which might best fit Telemachus or Penelope?

Also, you must keep in mind a SPEAKER.  YOU are not delivering these odes personally…but who MIGHT these words belong to?  The choice of speaker will determine the TONE of the poem.  You do NOT have to reveal who the speaker is… the reader should be able to make an educated guess based on  how he/she interprets the tone of the poem (remember the exercise we did the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s interpretation of T.S. Eliot’s poems?).

STUDENT SAMPLES

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“Ode to the Sirens” by James W.

O wondrous singers afar!
Fair maids of song fairer still.
To see thine faces is my will,
though I am bound to this spar.

Would that I could join you there,
but mine ship is locked on course!
Heartless men hold me by force,
ignoring my hateful glare!

Sing to me of vict’ry brave!
Please great Sirens, sing of Troy,
where I fought, leaving my boy
and the wife for whom I crave!

Thine song reaches me alone:
I hear you cry “come, brave soul!
“With us your life will be whole!”
On my pleas to join you drone.

Sirens fair, perched on thine isle,
may your music never end!
Ever my ear will I lend
‘till away my life should while!

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“Ode to the Earth-Shaker” by Jack S.

Brother O brother how I envy you too

You shake the Earth, causing tremors above

You control the sea and you devastate sailors

Such a fearful Earth-Shaker

O Poseidon you are so clever and wise

O Neptune how strong and mighty you are

You best all sailors and strike fear in their hearts

Wise and powerful Earth-Shaker

Your kin are great, they beat most men

Polyphemus lies in his cave feasting on mortals

He cursed Odysseus with your power

The great and fatherly Earth-Shaker

I must govern the dead

You can control the seas

At least I have Persephone

The grand, sea-faring Earth-Shaker

The other gods fear you so much

But they always leave me out

When you raise your trident, everyone listens

Strong and respected Earth-Shaker

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“Ode to Odysseus” by Jason M.

You left our house to go to war,
So you are not with me and our son anymore.
You bravely fought for ten years,
But when the war ended, even you filled the air with cheers.

You’ve been gone for twenty years,
When you didn’t come home I cried many tears.
I long for you to come home,
But instead you stay at sea and roam.

Odysseus you are so clever,
Trying not to miss you is a terrible endeavor.
Having you home will solve my trouble,
You will send the suitors packing on the double.

You are a glorious king residing in your palace’s hall,
You clearly stand far above all.
Even Zeus admits that you’re almost divine,
I long for you to be once again mine.

Odysseus you are so mighty,
And when you are near your enemies feel flighty.
Glorious Odysseus you are on your way home,
So that you can once again sit on you throne.

_________________________________________________________

“Ode to an Enchantress” by Ishitri B.

Oh enchanted Circe,

What fateful winds hath brought me.

To thy abode that you reside,

Among the seas that I did ride.

Oh wicked Circe,

For my men hath troubled you.

With the rath cradled in thy heart,

Squealing swine you formed them to.

Oh loving Circe,

The passion I felt for thee.

Burning like the scorching sun,

It is no wonder you chose me.

Oh beautiful Circe,

Your flowing locks long and divine.

Ensnared my beating heart,

And gave no choice but to make you mine.

Oh treacherous Circe,

Ruling the minds of many men.

Enslaved, beguiled and played us all,

Thus I knew to leave you then.

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“Ode to Penelope” by Trevor C.

Faithful wife of Odysseus, where does your husband wander?

If you think about what Odysseus is doing, one could so simply ponder

Don’t you ever question that your husband’s love for you is not everlasting?

If I get the chance, I will reel you into my love that I am casting.

Do you ever feel so lonesome being confined?

But if you lived with me, our love could be divine

You know I sometimes get the feeling of your lonely

I stand out from those slobbering suitors, unlike me, they are quite homely

I could even make the pain of Telemachus’ death minimal

You may have observed the suitors’ behavior in your house, acting like criminals

We could be top birds of our castle

And destroy any lovers presenting you a hassle

I can see who you want as a loyal husband, I can tell your desires

You know you want a man who loves you with a burning passion, like a crackling fire

Being safe with me in the deep depths of the castle, we could live such simple lives

This security wouldn’t be at the hands of others who our love they’d attempt to deprive

Why I know that you’d do anything to keep me with you and elated

To do this now, I know you haven’t even debated

But we know that sometime our souls will have to evade our beings

And about our lives in the underworld, you know I have already being dreaming

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“Ode to Athene” by Emily M.

O goddess Athene, you have been my guide,

In times of hardship when I would rather hide.

Those obstacles I would not have faced,

Shan’t it been for you I would not have reached my place.

Your aid has been like no others!

O Pallas Athene, you have watched over me,

In times of trouble you gave me strength to not flee.

Those creatures I would not have passed,

Shan’t it been for you I would not have reached home at last.

Your aid has been like no others!

O clear-eyed Athene, you have taken many forms,

Without you I would have been caught up in large storms.

Those enemies I would not have beat,

Shan’t it been for you I would have experienced defeat.

Your aid has been like no others!

O grey-eyed Athene, you have done for me so much,

Without you I would not have had a crutch.

My family I would not again see,

Shan’t it been for you I would forever be lonely.

Your aid has been like no others!

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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched

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