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From the Greek and Latin poems of the same name written for formal occasions. Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is an example of a Horatian Ode, which contains matched stanzas as compared to, for example, Wordsworth's "Intimations on Immortality." Gray's Pindaric Odes "The Progress of Poesy" and "The Bard" are among the finest examples in the English language.

The term was adopted in English music to refer to a setting of a text with alternating choral and solo passages. Odes were usually in several movements and resembled cantatas.