The Human Body is Not Designed for Ambivalence: Odes

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The critical analysis section of this dissertation seeks to define the ode using examples in translation from Greek and Latin odes and examples in English written from the 1500s to the 2000s. Although most definitions of the ode contend that this subgenre of the lyric is an occasional poem of praise that includes a meditative or mythological element, the ode is far more complex. An ode is an occasional poem, but it works to privilege rather than strictly praise its subject, allowing for the speaker's ambivalence toward the subject. Meditation is a key element of the ode, since the poet ... continued below

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Walker, Tammy December 2007.

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  • Walker, Tammy

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Description

The critical analysis section of this dissertation seeks to define the ode using examples in translation from Greek and Latin odes and examples in English written from the 1500s to the 2000s. Although most definitions of the ode contend that this subgenre of the lyric is an occasional poem of praise that includes a meditative or mythological element, the ode is far more complex. An ode is an occasional poem, but it works to privilege rather than strictly praise its subject, allowing for the speaker's ambivalence toward the subject. Meditation is a key element of the ode, since the poet uses the subject as a means for moving to the meditation or as a conduit through which the meditation occurs. The meditation in the poem is also a way for the poet or speaker to negotiate the relationship between the subject and herself; thus, the ode is concerned with power, since the poet must place herself or the speaker in relation to the subject. Power thus may be granted to either the speaker or the subject; the poet names and speaks of the subject, and often the poet names and speaks of himself in relation to the subject. Additionally, odes usually contain some exhortation, generally directed to the subject if not to those surrounding the reader or capable of "listening in" to the performance of the poem. This definition, it should be noted, is intended to be fluid. In order for a poem to be relevant to its age, it must either adhere to or usefully challenge the contemporary concerns. Thus, while many of the odes discussed will contain the elements of this definition, others will work against the definition. In the remainder of the introduction, I examine ancient models and twentieth- and twenty-first century examples of the ode as a means of exploring what an ode is and how it can undermine the elements of the definition and still work as a poem of this subgenre. In the second section of the dissertation are lyric poems, many of which fit in varying degrees the definition laid out in the critical analysis.

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UNT Theses and Dissertations

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  • December 2007

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  • May 2, 2008, 3:20 p.m.

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  • May 6, 2016, 6:29 p.m.

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Walker, Tammy. The Human Body is Not Designed for Ambivalence: Odes, dissertation, December 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5112/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .