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  • Writer's pictureKaecey McCormick

Ode to the End of Summer: An exercise

Summer is almost over, and every year it's a bittersweet feeling. The end of a season, shadows growing longer, gold-tinted dusks--even the whispers of winds through trees sounds sweetly melancholic.

I love to focus on the end of seasons and use them as a time of reflection and transition. That means the end of summer is the perfect muse for writing some poetry! For this reason, I've created an exercise to celebrate summer's end.

This poetry exercise invites you to channel the lingering warmth and inevitable goodbye of summer into an ode. Before diving in, let's take a quick look at what an ode is:

About the ode

An ode is a lyrical stanza written in praise for a person, event, or thing. Celebratory and thoughtful, it often explores complex emotions with a combination of both structured and free verse styles.

Traditionally, odes are characterized by their respect and reverence toward the subject, expressive voice, and intricate structure, serving as vessels for contemplation and admiration. In today's poetry world, there's more freedom to interpret odes in the way that feels right for the poet.

Exercise overview

In this exercise, I'll guide you to write an "Ode to the End of Summer," drawing inspiration from classic odes in literature. With a focus on observation, emotion, and language, you'll craft a piece that not only celebrates summer but also gently ushers in the change of seasons.

How to write your "Ode to the End of Summer":

Step one: Selecting elements of summer

This first step involves tapping into your memories and observations. You’ll choose specific elements of summer that resonate with you, serving as the cornerstone for your ode.

Think about the aspects of summer that are most poignant and meaningful to you. It could be the sensation of sunlight, the taste of seasonal fruits, or the sound of waves at the beach. Write them down.

Step two: Using descriptive and emotive language:

In this step , your selected elements are brought to life with vivid language and emotional depth, capturing the essence and spirit of summer.

Dive deep into descriptive and emotive language to convey the beauty and feelings associated with your chosen elements. For example, in “Ode to a Nightingale,” John Keats uses phrases like “tender is the night” and “Queen-Moon is on her throne” to evoke a sense of delicate, ephemeral beauty.

You'll also want to consider sensory details. Spend some time thinking beyond visual descriptions and reach out with your other senses--we have five, so try to incorporate details using all five senses!

Step three: Structuring your ode

With your elements and language in hand, it's time to structure your ode. This step is about organizing your thoughts and crafting lines that flow smoothly and harmoniously, capturing the rhythm of the season as it comes to a close.

Arrange your poem in a structure or form that best suits the material you've uncovered for your ode. This could be a traditional form with stanzas and rhyme schemes or a free verse that mirrors the free-spirited nature of summer.

Don't forget to title your ode! I've suggested "Ode to the End of Summer," but you might choose to focus on one element, like a sunset or the cooling sand. Feel free to select a title that best reflects the subject of your celebration.

Share your work!

Once your ode is complete, consider sharing this celebration of the end of summer with others. Whether submitting to journals, sharing with your community at a reading or online, or simply reading it to your friends and family, let your words help others celebrate the farewell to summer.

And of course, I hope you'll share your work with me. You can message me through my website or send it to me via email!

Happy writing!


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