Ode to the Ordinary

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Poetry comes in many different forms, and some have rules that are based on the content or tone of the poem. For instance, pastorals are peaceful poems about living in the countryside. Elegies are poems about loss. And odes are lyric poems that praise a person, place, or thing. 

Because odes admire and celebrate, they are often thought of as having grandiose subjects – but that’s not always the case. In 1954, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda published a collection of odes about ordinary objects: flowers, tables, soap, tomatoes, tuna. Here’s a few lines from his ode to socks:

my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea-blue, shot
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored
in this way
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
of that woven
of those glowing

Today, let’s lavish praise on an everyday object. Identify an object near you, and spend some time observing it. Think about its sensory qualities: what does the object look like, feel like, smell like? Jot down all the minute details. Then write a poem devoted to this ordinary object. Odes are, at their root, love letters.

Need inspirational boost before beginning? Check out these odes from Community Ambassadors Yellow Sweater and Eblinn.