Ode

Revision notes for Auden's "Ode"

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W.H.Auden:
Ao2: Narrative Technique
Ao3: Ideas behind poetry
Ao4: Context:
Ode:
Summary: In wartime, soldiers discuss the enemy, the origins of the conflict and the
patriotism of their side. They appear to be preparing for a decisive battle, but they
seem to be close to defeat.
Form:
Traditional verse form derived from ancient Greek models.
The most famous English odes are by Keats, which are reflective, lyrical and
personal.
Themes:
Deals with images of violence and warfare
It is about the causes of conflict
Patriotism and jingoism
Deals with history and a sense of disintegration
Through of its sense of history, it deals with issues relating to time.
Fuller (1998) suggests that the poem is a metaphor for the "divided psyche"
Style:
Vivid and powerful details
Contains cryptic references which require interpretation.
Uses a kind of symbolic personification, in which Auden gives identities to the
seven deadly sins.
It may be symbolic of rebelliousness in general or of the divided psyche- the
censorious ego and the rebellious id.
Links to other poems:
The image of violent conflict is similar to that in "O What is that Sound."
Its bleak view of international politics is similar to that in "September 1st 1939"
The sinister suggestions in "O Where are You Going?" are developed further in
this poem.
Depressing views expressed in "Miss Gee" and "As I walked out one evening"
are echoed here.
Cryptic references and a sense of hopelessness are shared with this poem and
"If I Could Tell You."

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Page 2

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Aspects of Narrative:
Refers back to the origins of the conflict
Refers to the stories that the soldiers have heard about their nation's history.
Deals with a time in which something is about to happen.…read more

Page 3

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Stanza 5:
The world has become its grievances
Embedded within our history, the state of perpetual violence/competition
Stanza 7:
Everything about childhood; power/conquering
Easy belief that man and God are on the same size; is Auden questioning that
we are wrong to think this?
Stanza 8:
Naïve to think our views are the only ones that stand
Stanza 9:
How has this fear been indoctrinated within us?
Perpetual aggression and war
Stanza 11:
Personification of the seven deadly sins; it is as though they are…read more

Page 4

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Ao4: Context:
Stanza 2:
"tall white Gods"
Stanza 6:
Auden; reflects him as he is the opposite of the stereotypical male.…read more

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