Ode

ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CAT, DROWNED IN A TUB OF GOLDFISHES

'Twas on a lofty vase's side, Where China's gayest art had dyed

The azure flowers that blow; Demurest of the tabby kind, The pensive Selima, reclined, Gazed on the lake below. . . .

The Banquet Poem. This type of verse celebrates a banquet honoring a person or group, as this excerpt by Charlotte Brontë illustrates:

WRITTEN UPON THE OCCASION OF THE DINNER GIVEN TO THE LITERATI OF THE GLASSTOWN, which was attended by all the Great Men of the present time: Soldier, Sailor, Poet and Painter, Architect, Politician, Novelist, and Romancer.

The splendid Hall is blazing with many a glowing light, And a spirit-like effulgence mild, a flood of glory bright, Flows round the stately pillars, . . .

The Academic or Government Function Poem. This type of verse marks an act, gathering or other event in a university or govern ment setting. Here is a sample from a poem by James Russell Lowell:

ODE RECITED AT THE HARVARD COMMEMORATION July 21, 1865

To-day our Reverend Mother welcomes back Her wisest Scholars, those who understood The deeper teaching of her mystic tome,

And offered their fresh lives to make it good: . . .

The Public Tragedy Poem. This verse marks an event so catastrophic that its date will be remembered through time, illustrated by this excerpt from a famous poem by Thomas Hardy:

THE CONVERGENCE OF THE TWAIN Lines on the loss of the Titanic

In a solitude of the sea Deep from human vanity, And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she. . . .

The Holiday Poem. This type chronicles events on a traditional holiday, as this excerpt does from a poem by Sara Teasdale:

NEW YEAR'S DAWN-BROADWAY

When the horns wear thin

And the noise, like a garment outworn,

Falls from the night,

The tattered and shivering night,

That thinks she is gay;

When the patient silence comes back,

And retires,

And returns,

Rebuffed by a ribald song, Wounded by vehement cries, Fleeing again to the stars. . . .

Again, these are types of occasion poems found most often in the literary canon. Identifying them can help you come up with ideas for such work. To inspire you, let's take a look at how a poet goes about the business of composing occasion poems and conceiving ideas for them.

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