Ode: a lyric poem, typically addressed to a particular subject, with lines of varying lengths and complex rhythms, and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.
The following poem provides a fun first look at odes. It is written by Wes McNair, Maine's current Poet Laureate, and has been featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac and published on the www.poetryfoundation.org website. I first discovered it in my personal copy of Mr. McNair's book, The Ghosts of You and Me: Poems, which I highly recommend. In this poem, the subject is the comb-over hair style...
Hymn to the Comb-Over by WESLEY MCNAIR
How the thickest of them erupt just
above the ear, cresting in waves so stiff
no wind can move them. Let us praise them
in all of their varieties, some skinny
as the bands of headphones, some rising
from a part that extends halfway around
the head, others four or five strings
stretched so taut the scalp resembles
a musical instrument. Let us praise the sprays
that hold them, and the combs that coax
such abundance to the front of the head
in the mirror, the combers entirely forget
the back. And let us celebrate the combers,
who address the old sorrow of time’s passing
day after day, bringing out of the barrenness
of mid-life this ridiculous and wonderful
harvest, no wishful flag of hope, but, thick,
or thin, the flag itself, unfurled for us all
in subways, offices, and malls across America.