ANTISTROPHE, the portion of an ode which is sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response to 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, in Gray's ode called "The Progress of Poesy," the strophe, which dwelt in triumphant accents on the beauty, power and ecstasy of 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 form in which the ancient sacred hymns of Greece were composed, from the days of Stesichorus onwards. As Milton says, "strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed only for the music then used with the chorus that sang."
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)