Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry

Palinode

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A palinode or palinody is an ode in which the writer retracts a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem. The first recorded use of a palinode is in a poem by Stesichorus in the 7th century BC. Here he retracts his earlier statement that the Trojan War was all the fault of Helen.

The word comes from the Greek παλιν ("palin", meaning 'again') and ωδη ("song"); the Latin equivalent "recantation" is a direct loan ("re-" meaning 'again' and "cant-" meaning 'sing').

It can also be a recantation of a defamatory statement in Scots Law.

Examples

Chaucer's Retraction is one example of a palinode.

Late in his life, Gelett Burgess wrote this of his famous Purple Cow:

Ah, yes! I wrote the purple cow,
Iím sorry now I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
Iíll kill you if you quote it!

Ogden Nash wrote a palinode in retaliation to his most famous poem about the dandiness of candy, and quickness of liquor:

Nothing makes me sicker
than liquor
and candy
is too expandy

Palinodes have also been created by many medieval writers such as Augustine, Bede, Giraldus Cambrensis, Jean de Meun and others.


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