Pindaric Odes

Pindar (c. 522 – c. 443 BC)

AG:  So, “..since our dainty age/ Cannot endure reproof,/Make not thyself a page/To that strumpet, the stage/But sing high and aloof,/Safe from the wolf’s black jaw and the dull ass’s hoof “ (that’s the end of that poem (by Ben Jonson) “On Himself” – Ode to Himself) – “Safe from the wolf’s black jaw and the dull ass’s hoof” (A lot of elitist poets have always liked that line as being an acme of put-down of vulgar public – it’s on page two-six-two of the..

Then  you studied the Pindaric Ode? – with… at the end of last term…with..Reed (Bye)? you remember? Does everybody remember?

Student: (What was the name of the poem?)

AG: The next poem.. But.. did… was anybody here in Reed (Bye)’s class when they were doing Odes? – Yeah? – how many? – And did they take up the Pindar Ode ?

Student: Yeah

AG: Yeah?

Student:  Yeah, and wasn’t the originator of the form…?

AG: Pardon me?

Student: Wasn’t he the originator of the form?

AG: Pindar was,

Student: (So that was the first one..)

AG: Yeah. Did you have an example? from… I mean, from Pindar?

Student: (I think so, but if I….look at my notes…)

Ben Jonson’s “To The Immortal Memory and Friendship of That Noble Pair, Sir Lucius Cary and Sir Henry Morison”]  because it’s quite long, but there’s very beautiful passages in it. But I would like to point out the basic structure of it, because it’s an interesting gimmick. Pindar is admired by Ed Sanders and Ezra Pound as being a really interesting prosodist and maker of forms. Pound’s view of it was that ..what he would do..something (like Marianne Moore, in a way), to create a stanza shape (perhaps) out of the first fresh rhymed inspiration and then repeat that shape exactly and answer to it. In the case of page two-sixty-three [sic], there is a Pindaric-style Ode by Ben Jonson, [“To The Immortal Memory…”] in which the…  In Pindar (it’s) the strophe, the counter-strophe, and the epode – or strophe, anti-strophe… Anti-strophe or strophe – (Is that pronounced strophee or strophe?)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eight minutes in and concluding at approximately ten-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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