Odes are poems written in honor of something. Odes can be dedicated to anything. Some poets write odes to their socks—like Pablo Neruda! Some poets write odes to a piece of art that moved or inspired them. Many odes are written to a person that the poet loves. Today, we’re going to be writing odes to nature and the outdoors!
Although they’re not under the category of “odes”, haiku are often written in honor of nature. With detailed description, haiku often depict nature scenes, or something in nature like a tree or bird. We’re going to be taking a look at some haiku for inspiration and write our odes to nature.
Below are a couple poems by Basho:
The shrilling of cicadas
Stabs into the rock
The old pond
A frog leaps in.
Sound of the water.
Haiku by Buson:
From the plum tree bloom
Is fragrance floating upward?
There’s a halo round the moon
What do you notice about these poems? Do you have a favorite? Notice that these poems are often about one thing and focus on just that one thing.
With a paper and pencil, go outside your home or wherever you’re currently at, and take a seat somewhere where it’s peaceful. This could be under a tree, on a patch of grass—really anywhere!
Take a moment just to appreciate where you are. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths.
Draw on your five senses—touch, taste, hearing, sight, smell—and start to notice your surroundings. (Hint: it helps to keep your eyes closed.) What do you hear? What do you smell? If you were to reach out and touch, what would you touch? If you tasted your environment, what would you taste? Now open your eyes. What do you see?
Focus on one of these senses. Is there a smell around you that stands out? Is there a sound that is grabbing your attention? Maybe a bird call is piercing the air? Maybe the tree you’re under is so big and beautiful.
We’re going to observe that thing! Make a list of observations. Use all of the five senses to describe that thing. If you’re focusing on a bird call, for example, challenge yourself to use the other senses to describe it. What would this bird call look like? What smell would this bird call have? If you’re focusing on the way a butterfly looks, ask yourself what sounds would this butterfly make. What would it feel like to touch the butterfly? Make sure to write these observations down!
Is there anything else you can think of about this thing? Do you know any facts about your butterfly? What does it like to do? Do you know anything interesting about the leaf you found on the ground?
Lastly, make a list of emotions that your observed thing makes you feel. How do you feel right now? Peaceful? Excited? Happy? Afraid? Agitated? Brave? Any and every emotion is valid!
Write an ode to your observed thing in the style of haiku!
- Rules: you have to write it in three lines; none of your lines can contain more than seven words.
- Draw on all your observation! Remember the five senses. Draw on the feelings that this observed thing evokes in you.
Read your ode aloud to yourself, and then share your ode with a friend or favorite adult!