Following a brief survey of the ode’s variable formal features, this chapter traces the development of the English ode by reference to a small number of landmark texts by poets such as Milton, Dryden, and Keats. Arguing that among the form’s more historically stable hallmarks is its meta-poetic function, the chapter invites exploration of the extent to which the ode can be seen as an indicator of the public place of poetry, and poets, over time. It concludes with brief remarks on how the form has recently been used to subvert hierarchies inscribed in its own history.