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Characteristic of or derived from the work of the Greek poet Pindar (Pindaros, 518–438bce), a writer of public choral odes. The Pindaric ode has an unfixed number of stanzas arranged in groups of three, in which a strophe and antistrophe sharing the same length and complex metrical pattern are followed by an epode of differing length and pattern. This triadic arrangement matches the movements of the chorus that would have performed Pindar's works on public occasions. In English, two rare examples of ‘regular’ odes conforming to this Pindaric model are Thomas Gray's ‘The Progress of Poesy’ and ‘The Bard’ (both 1747). More common, though, is the ‘irregular’ or ‘Cowleyan’ ode comprising a number of strophes that do not correspond in length or in the arrangement of their lines: Abraham Cowley's ‘Pindarique Odes’ (1656) began this kind of departure from strict Pindaric precedent. A more clearly distinct tradition in the composition of odes is represented by the Horatian ode, which employs a regularly repeated stanza form.

Subjects: Literature.

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