Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry

Antistrophe

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Antistrophe, the portion of an ode which is sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response the strophe, which was sung from east to west.

It is of the nature of a reply, and balances the effect of the strophe. Thus, Gray's ode called "The Progress of Poesy," the strophe, which dwelt in triumphant accents on the beauty, power and ecstasy verse, is answered by the antistrophe, in a depressed and melancholy key:

"Man's feeble race what ills await,
Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain,
Disease and Sorrow's weeping Train,
And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate," etc.

When the sections of the chorus have ended their responses, they unite and close in the epode, thus exemplifying the triple m in which the ancient sacred hymns of Greece were coined, from the days of Stesichorus onwards. As Milton says, "strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed for the music then used with the chorus that sang."

References

  • This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica, a publication in the public domain.

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