Tuesday, January 17, 2023

ChatGPT Generates A Poem About Football

Like many if not most kids in high school I was introduced to poetry in one or more of my English classes. I recall, perhaps in my junior year, having to read and study The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I never did get why the word Rhyme was spelled Rime. (Clue: the story involves getting off course and in the vicinity of the South Pole. It was not a typo.)

I think it was while "studying" T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men that I began to take a greater appreciation in poetry. Mr. Harris' English class inspired me even more as he selected lyrics from some of the songs we were listening to; songs by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and others. 

In one of these classes, if not more, we were giving the task of writing poems ourselves. Though nothing remains of the poems--or stories--I wrote as a teen, I do vividly remember the opening lines of a couple of these. The first was a poem about a street gang called the Tigers. It opened like this:

The Tigers are rough, the Tigers are tough, 
They'll beat you till you've had enough. 

I'm pretty sure I came across it several years later somehow and when I read it I had to laugh. It was so bad. As in poor. 

The opening line to another poem I wrote went something like this:

Yellow walls in yellow room, 

I see no beauty in this wretched place.

The rest is lost but the image I began describing was of an abandoned room at the top of a flight of stairs in an old building, the peeling wallpaper yellowed by age.

* * * *

Frankly, I've actually seen some pretty interesting poetry emerge from the last AI program I used (Sudowrite), though the program seemed to rapidly descend to rather dark places at times. Example here: Two Versions of The Comet, Light and Dark

Well, I expected something better from ChatGPT. Then again, maybe the topic I asked it to write a poem about thought the theme too juvenile to be taken seriously. What do you think?


Me: Can you write a poem about football?


The field is green, the crowd is loud,
The players take the field, proud and proud.

They've trained so hard, for this one game,

To bring their team, eternal fame.

The whistle blows, the ball is kicked,

The players clash, they're all committed.

They fight for yards, they fight for score,

Their hearts are in it, forever more.

With every play, the crowd roars on,

Their team's success, is never gone.

And when the game is finally won,

They'll lift their helmets, to the setting sun.

For football is more than just a sport,

It's a battle fought, with all support.

It brings us together, one and all,

For football, we'll always stand tall.

Now you would think that a machine with super-intelligence would recognize how juvenile this poem is. "For football, we'll always stand tall?" Then again, we all started somewhere, and as these programs learn from their past mistakes it shouldn't be long before.... Wait.

Do you think ChatGPT or another AI can write sonnets like Shakespeare? Will an AI win a Nobel Prize some day?  It's hard to wrap my head around that one. The bigger question is will future readers even know the difference between good and bad literature? 

C'est la vie.

Illustrations by DreamAI

The football theme was selected because I have been watching the NFL playoffs.

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