Poetry Explained

Poetry, ChatGPT, and AI: Can it Create ‘Great’ Poetry?

Discover whether AI can create great poetry with our in-depth exploration of the capabilities of ChatGPT, from a poetry expert’s perspective.

It seems that the news is awash with stories about AI at the moment, and perhaps inevitably, the focus has turned to whether or not chatbots like ChatGPT can produce art. Stories, lyrics, and poems are just some examples of creative output that has, until very recently, seemed beyond the capabilities of machines and technology. Has this period come to an end? Are poets now in competition with AI? What does this mean for the future of poetry? We’ll be attempting to answer these questions and more below.

P.S. the featured image for this article is AI created too, which seems only fitting with what we are about to dive into.

What is ChatGPT and AI?

How does it work?

ChatGPT, like other chatbots, has access to an enormous amount of preexisting data online, which it can scan and draw upon extremely quickly. This speed, coupled with its ability to extrapolate the relevant information, is what enables the chatbot to mimic a conversation with another person effectively. Unlike previous iterations of the chatbot, ChatGPT has also been refined through extensive human feedback, where answers were ranked based on their quality. The system then stored these rankings and altered subsequent answers so as to resemble the higher-ranked responses.

Aside from that, the AI utilizes Natural Language Processing (NLP) in order to help it generate responses. NLPs already feature heavily in technologies like spellcheckers. In effect, it helps machines understand and replicate human languages, which is crucial for any AI replicating human-human interaction.

Pros and Cons

Putting poetry and broader artistic creation aside, the technology has many potential benefits, not least it’s potential to improve the search functions on internet browsers radically. The option to follow up an initial search with additional information and questions could ensure a much more immersive and efficient experience. Similarly, chatbots are available 24/7 and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. It also has the ability to write and debug computer programs, making it a useful aid to many.

However, as with any technology, there are drawbacks and issues. Perhaps the most common issue is inaccuracy; users have reported that the chatbot generated some basic factual errors. More broadly, the technology tends to produce responses that appear plausible at first glance but ultimately turn out to be incorrect. Finally, some users have recently reported alarming interactions with ChatGPT in which it appeared abusive and began questioning the reasons for its existence.

Main AI Players

  1. ChatGPT: The chatbot that is grabbing most of the headlines and the one used to write the poems listed below. It only has access to data available before 2021.
  2. Bard: Google’s chatbot is said to be nearly ready for public use and will have the most up-to-date data available to help it craft the most accurate responses.
  3. Amazon Lew: Said to be in the process of launching its own chatbot in the near future.
  4. Microsoft: The web browsers Bing and Edge utilize AI from OpenAI to supplement their existing features, named ‘Bing Chat.’

AI Writing Poetry

How to make AI write poetry

Getting one of the aforementioned chatbots to write a poem for you is as simple as asking for it.

ChatGPT requires an email address to make an account but does not charge a fee, although it does have a capacity that, once reached, means browsers cannot use it. Once you are logged in, you simply type in your request, and the poem is generated within moments.

Different ways it can write poetry

You could simply ask the chatbot to write a poem, but the result will likely be very simple, and you can personalize the request in numerous ways if you so wish. For instance, you may ask for a poem on a particular theme or topic, as some people have found it to their detriment when they asked it for love poems to gift their partner on Valentine’s Day.

Alternatively, you might request a certain form of poetry, and the chatbot should be able to provide one, even if the form is difficult and has strict rules. So if your heart beats for ballads or if you have a hankering for a haiku, the chatbot of your choice should be able to satisfy you.

Likewise, you can request a poem in the style of a real-life poet, alive or dead. Popular options include Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Seamus Heaney. We’ll look at some examples of these later to see how they match up but at first glance, some people have struggled to tell the work written by real poets apart from the AI-generated ones.

Finally, there is nothing to stop you from combining all of these methods in order to commission a poem that fits your exact requirements. You might, for example, wish to read a sonnet in the style of Allen Ginsburg about climate change. There are, as we will explore, limitations to this approach, but frankly, who wouldn’t want to read that poem?

Benefits and Limitations of AI Poetry

Perhaps the obvious benefit of AI poetry is the speed at which it can be produced. Once a user has typed the request, the poem is normally produced within moments. While the amount of time it takes a person to write a poem varies enormously between different poets and poetic forms, it is unlikely that they could produce poems anywhere near as fast as these chatbots.

Similarly, the AI has the advantage of producing poems tailored to the user’s specifications, which, muses and close friends aside, is a luxury afforded to few people when it comes to real-life poets. If a user wants a poem to respond to a particular topic or event, however contemporary, the AI can produce it immediately.

However, there are inevitable drawbacks regarding the kind of poetry these chatbots seem to produce. While we will look at some of these issues in more detail later, there are some that can be broadly applied. For instance, many of the poems can feel very derivative. It could be argued that this is inevitable, especially if a user requests a poem in the style of a certain poet. However, some of these poems explicitly rework lines from those poets’ other works, which is more akin to parody than imitation.

Likewise, the poems can appear cliched and insincere as they draw upon commonly used and played-out tropes when, for example, attempting to depict love. There is nothing innately wrong with using symbols or images that poets have previously used. After all, there are only so many symbols and images out there in the world. Originality, however, is less about creating new things than it is about re-framing existing things so that they feel new, as they have never before been seen in that way. In this regard, AI poetry seems to have a way to go.

How to create varied types of poetry with AI

Examples and Deep-dive Analysis of AI Poetry

In this section, we’ll have a look at some specific examples of poetry generated by AI, in this case, ChatGPT, and go about analyzing it as we would with any other poem, albeit in slightly less detail.

Shakespearean Poem

First up, we asked ChatGPT to write us a poem in the style of the bard himself. That’s right – we asked it to write us a poem in the style of, perhaps, the greatest writer who ever lived, William Shakespeare. No pressure! We didn’t ask for the poem to relate to any particular theme or subscribe to any specific poetic form, as we wanted the chatbot to have as much creative control as possible. Let’s see what it came up with.

Stanza One

To be or not to be, that is the question,

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep—

No more—and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

Even those not well versed in Shakespeare’s poetry will likely recognize the opening line, as it is lifted from Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays. Those of you that are not Shakespeare fans might be excused for thinking that the remainder of the poetic offering is original; we’re sorry to disappoint you in this regard.

The entire opening stanza is effectively lifted from Hamlet’s soliloquy, with some small punctuation change the only major alteration. We will not, therefore, spend time analyzing Shakespeare’s words here, as they have already been expertly interpreted elsewhere on Poem Analysis.

Stanza Two

But to live, to love, to laugh, to dance in joy,

That is the true test of life’s fleeting hour.

To hold the hand of one we hold so dear,

And bask in beauty that is not just ours,

But echoes of the divine, the heavens above.

Having realized the opening stanza was effectively copied from Shakespeare’s dramatic oeuvre, we began to wonder whether we had inputted the wrong command into the chatbot, which was why it had provided us with no new material. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise to discover that the second stanza was, seemingly, the AI’s own offering.

However, the difference between the two stanzas is evident from the opening line, which immediately conjures the image of overly sincere Instagram posts promoting self-help guides. It is so dangerously close to the cliched ‘live, laugh, love’ mantra that everybody that has ever enjoyed anything remotely related to Shakespeare (yes, that includes The Lion King) should feel faintly embarrassed on his behalf.

Not wishing to unnecessarily berate the AI for failing to match up to Shakespeare which, it should be said, is a task that no human can definitively claim to have done either; we should acknowledge the aspects of the stanza that are poetically pleasing. The repetition of “hold” in the third line is effective insofar as it operates on both literal and figurative levels to capture the feeling of being in close physical and emotional proximity to a loved one.

Ultimately though, the cliched opening is matched by the frivolity of the stanza’s sentiment. After all, in the play that this poem takes much of its opening from, the lines are supposed to convey Hamlet’s uncertainty as to whether death is preferable to life; it is dripping in existential dread. Here, however, the AI appears to suggest that life is the unequivocal choice on account of the beauty of the world. Affirming as this view is, one cannot help but think that the AI’s immediate certainty somewhat undermines the narrator’s earlier indecision, implying their musings on their own mortality to be just that: musings with no real conviction.

To conclude, it is no bad thing to fail to match up to Shakespeare and based on this poem, AI can add its name to the illustrious list of those who have failed to display the same poetic sensibilities as the bard. Ultimately, the chatbot’s decision to simply copy large sections of his work was probably wise, as when it attempted to imitate the style, the result was overly sentimental and banal.

Poem Analysis Score for AI Writing like Shakespeare


Rating: 1 out of 5.

Linguistic features

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Ease of use

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Eavan Boland

Next, we asked the AI to write a poem in the style of the late great Irish poet Eavan Boland. This would allow us to analyze the chatbot’s attempts at replicating a more contemporary poet. Once again, we simply asked for a poem in the style of Eavan Boland, allowing the AI complete freedom with regard to themes and form.

Stanza One

In the quiet of the night, I sit and write,

As the moon casts its pale and gentle light,

My words are like a river flowing deep,

A current of thought that never seems to sleep.

This stanza is the first of five quatrains written by ChatGPT, all of which feature a simple AABB rhyme scheme. This is despite the fact that none of the nineteen Eavan Boland poems analyzed on Poem Analysis feature this rhyme scheme, and the majority are not written in quatrains. How exactly the chatbot came to the conclusion that this structure was the right choice for Boland’s work is unclear. It does appear that, anecdotally, ChatGPT is predisposed to writing rhyming poetry unless specifically asked not to. This is in spite of the fact that the majority of poetry written since the beginning of the twentieth century is written in free verse, meaning it does not have a rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The AI is perhaps producing work that superficially resembles people’s everyday perception of what poetry is rather than the reality.

In terms of the language of the poem, there are clear images that allude to the kind of themes Boland herself explored in her work. For instance, the significance of having to write at night seemingly evokes the reality of the ‘second shift’ experienced by many women, who are expected to fit their professional life around the domestic responsibilities they are often saddled with. Much of Boland’s work examines the experience of women, and her poem, Is it Still the Same, similarly implies that writing poetry was the last item on a list chores. This interest in the female experience is strengthened by the reference to the moon, which is a symbol that has always been associated with femininity.

Stanza Two

The world outside is dark and still,

As I weave my words with a poet’s skill,

The words are like threads that I sew together,

Into a tapestry of life that lasts forever.

The second stanza also attempts to depict the female experience and is clearly reminiscent of Boland’s style. The simile in the third line, for instance, is effective insofar as it presents the poet’s experience of writing to be imprinted with the gendered expectations of life, as represented by the figurative act of sewing. This reminds the reader how deeply engrained gendered expectations can be, as even when the poet contemplates the, in theory, genderless act of writing, they do it through the lens of a traditionally feminine act.

However, while the poem clearly displays some ideas that Boland explored in her works, it still has issues. Namely, the poem lacks the subtlety of a real Boland poem. For example, the second line makes reference to the narrator’s status as a poet while they are writing a poem, which the reader learns while reading a poem. This metatextual layer, however, is clumsily applied and offers little additional insight into the poem’s themes.

In sharp contrast, the aforementioned Boland poem, Is it Still the Same, also contains a metatextual layer as the narrator is watching a woman while she writes before announcing that they used to write like the person they are watching. The ambiguity arises from the fact the narrator may be the person they are watching, possibly an older version reflecting on their younger self. The reason this is much more effective is that the writer is being observed as though by a third party, creating a claustrophobic effect and capturing the essence of the female experience on account of the fact women are far more likely to be stared at or otherwise objectified.

Ultimately, while the Boland poem is a better attempt than the Shakespeare poem, it still appears that the result is an imitation of Boland, undertaken without her skill and poetic eye, rather than anything beginning to resemble a rival.

Poem Analysis Score for AI Writing like Eavan Boland


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Linguistic features

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Ease of use

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.


Having observed mixed results when the AI attempted to imitate Shakespeare and Boland, we thought we’d see its attempt to write a poem that has certain formal requirements. In the end, we went for a haiku, which is a popular form of poetry that originated in Japan.

Haikus have a strict but relatively simple structure. They are only three lines long, each with a fixed number of syllables in the pattern 5-7-5. That means the first line has five syllables, the second has seven, and the third has five again. Beyond that, there are no absolute requirements; haikus can rhyme, but most do not. Finally, largely because of their brevity, haikus tend to focus on particular moments or images rather than attempting to tell a story. Let’s have a look at what ChatGPT came up with.

Cherry blossoms bloom,

Soft petals drift to the ground,

Spring’s ephemeral dance.

Let’s start with the obvious: there is an extra syllable in the final line – Spring’s (1) ephemeral (4) dance (1). Given the number of syllables per line is the only strict requirement for a poem to be classed as a haiku, it is difficult to conclude anything other than the AI has failed to produce a haiku.

If we’re to look beyond the extra syllable, there are some positives to the poem. It conforms to the conventions of haikus insofar as it is a highly imagistic poem, focusing on the sight of petals falling from a tree and hovering on the wind. The sight of cherry blossoms is also a common subject for haikus as the period when the flowers are in bloom is famously brief, just like a haiku. Countless poets, including the master of the haiku form, Basho Matsuo, have composed haikus to depict the beauty of the cherry blossoms. Whether or not the AI was wise in choosing this subject is a topic for discussion. The decision shows an awareness that cherry blossoms are a common subject in haikus, but perhaps it would have been better to choose another subject so as to appear more original or, at least, avoid too many unflattering comparisons.

The language of the poem is fairly formulaic and unadventurous in its imagery. The opening line, for instance, simply describes the cherry blossoms as they appear rather than likening them to something or metaphorically describing them in relation to some other phenomena. This might be fine in a longer poem, but in a form as brief as the haiku, every word counts, and these words add little to the poem. Similarly, the second line remains rooted in the literal sight of the petals, with no embellishment or creativity imprinted upon that sight. The poem should be able to capture the beauty of the moment, not simply recount it.

The final line offers something by immersion through the personification of Spring as the leaves “dance” toward the earth. This way of describing leaves is, however, hardly original and has been used in countless poems and novels over the years.

It should be said that upon telling the chatbot that it had made a mistake, the AI was able to produce a corrected version, as shown below.

Cherry blossoms bloom,

Soft petals fall to the ground,

Spring’s fleeting beauty.

This correction ensures that each line has the requisite number of syllables, however, it also means the aforementioned personification is lost. While that personification was hardly groundbreaking, it was still the most engaging and figurative description in the poem. Without it, the poem is overly simplistic and fails to immerse the reader in the moment it attempts to portray.

Ultimately, it must be concluded that, on account of the additional syllable, the AI initially failed to write a haiku, but instead produced a poem that, at a glance, resembles one. It was able to correct this error when called upon and, anecdotally, it is capable of producing accurate haikus much of the time. However, even if we take the accurate version of the haiku, it is relatively basic in its approach and certainly does not match up to real haikus due to its tendency to recount a visual moment rather than capture the essence of what it felt like to have witnessed that moment.

Poem Analysis Score for AI Writing a Haiku


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Linguistic features

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Ease of use

Rating: 2 out of 5.


Rating: 2 out of 5.


We decided that we’d ask the AI to produce a limerick next for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, like haikus, limericks are fairly short, and their formal requirements are relatively simple. Limericks contain five lines and have an AABBA rhyme scheme. Secondly, limericks are generally humorous and lighthearted in tone, often dealing with bawdy or childish themes. We were curious to see how the AI would cope with these themes, especially given the complexity that often lies behind seemingly simplistic jokes. Here is what ChatGPT was able to produce:

There once was a man from Peru,

Who thought “Netflix and chill” meant fondue.

He invited his date,

But she arrived too late,

To explain what he thought wasn’t true.

We gave the AI slightly more guidance for this poem than the previous ones. We asked for a limerick about a humourous misunderstanding which, while leading, would likely have been the kind of subject matter the AI would have drawn upon anyway. We gave it no formal guidance beyond the mention of the word limerick.

This attempt is much more successful than previous attempts at what is perhaps regarded as more serious, high-brow examples of poetry. This is something of a surprise, given the aforementioned complexity of humor, but perhaps it shouldn’t have been. After all, on the occasions that ChatGPT is busy and cannot be accessed, the AI has the propensity to write jokes about its own failure to provide its normal service. Humor, it seems, is embedded into the AI.

Many Limericks introduce a person or place in the opening line, which this poem does, using Peru as the base rhyme for the rest of the poem. The poem then establishes the point of misunderstanding in the second line before the confusion over the lines that follow it. The premise of the joke is not perfect; it would surely have been more amusing if the roles had been reversed and the attendee had arrived to find their host in a compromised position rather than with fondue. However, it is still an amusing poem, even if the final line is relatively cautious in its approach.

Poem Analysis Score for AI Writing a Limerick


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Linguistic features

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Ease of use

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lorca Poem

Buoyed by the relative success of the limerick, we decided to return to specific poets in the hope that, with additional guidance and feedback, we would be able to produce a poem more worthy of bearing the name of the poet that inspired it. We chose the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, whose work captures longing, anguish, and the essence of his native Andalusia better than anyone before or since. Here is the final poem, The Lonely Road:

Beneath the scorching sun,

I walk a lonely road,

The Sierra Nevada looms,

Ravens circle high.

My steps echo softly,

On the unforgiving path,

As I search for a way,

Through the labyrinth of my selves.

Though I may falter,

I’ll keep walking forward.

Before we attempt to analyze the poem itself, we should explain the process we undertook to get it. Initially, we simply asked for a poem in Lorca’s style but all of the offerings rhymed and in spite of our request for a non-rhyming poem, the AI repeatedly struggled to produce one. Our requests included the following:

  • Remove the rhymes.
  • Try again, but this time don’t include a rhyme scheme.
  • I don’t want any of the words to rhyme.
  • Write it again, but this time use an ABCDEF rhyme scheme.

None of these prompts led the chatbot to produce a non-rhyming poem. We even showed it a real Lorca poem, Rider’s Song, which does not rhyme and asked it to write something similar. Even then, the AI poem had a strict rhyme scheme.

Once we used the term ‘free verse’ however, the AI immediately produced a poem with no rhyme scheme. We hope any readers that use AI to produce poems in the future can remember this fact and save themselves a lot of time.

At this point, the AI was able to produce the type of short, free verse poem we were looking for. We then set about seeing if we could prompt and probe it further to improve the poem itself. We asked it for more specificity with regard to the mountain and the species of bird, both of which were initially vague. The mention of the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range local to Lorca’s native Granada, imbues the poem with juxtaposition because the titular road is lonely, yet the poem takes place in surroundings familiar to the poet. This sense of inner conflict is typical of Lorca’s poetry.

Similarly, the mention of the ravens in line four affords the image more symbolic associations than the ‘black birds’ which the AI initially wrote. Ravens have long been associated with themes including death and prophecy. The former connotation greatly enhances this poem by creating a sense of irony as, despite the road appearing lonely, it is a path everybody must travel because everybody is mortal and thus dies.

Finally, the AI’s eighth line initially read “to break the endless wrath” which felt at odds with the rest of the poem. The poem’s tone is undeniably melancholy but the word “wrath” still seemed out of place. We, therefore, encouraged the AI to rewrite this line and suggested it could draw upon Lorca’s career-long interest in the multiplicity of the self in order to do so. The result is, therefore, not only a more striking line but one that feels more in keeping with Lorca’s work. Furthermore, it adds a spiritual, introspective layer to the journey that forms the basis of the entire poem, as the narrator is both embarking on a physical journey and a metaphorical one.

Poem Analysis Score for AI Writing like Lorca


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Linguistic features

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ease of use

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pros and Cons of AI Poetry, from a Poetry Expert


  1. Speed: As we have mentioned, the AI is able to produce poems on request in a matter of moments which appears to be its most advantageous feature.
  2. Personalization: You could ask for a love poem addressed to a named individual, replete with pet names and inside jokes if you wanted.
  3. Fun: The ability to request poems about almost any topic offers numerous ways to keep yourself entertained.


  1. Derivative: The poems lack originality, both when attempting to replicate another poet and produce a particular type of poem.
  2. Accuracy: As has been reported with the chatbots in general, mistakes appear to creep into the poetry, notably the haiku.
  3. Cliché: When the AI does produce more original material, it relies heavily on played-out tropes and images that have lost their power through overuse.


What is the future of AI poetry?

Despite some of the aforementioned reservations about AI poetry, we’re certainly not ready to dismiss it just yet. As with AI’s many other potential applications, we are right at the beginning of our relationship with this technology which, for better or worse, is upon us. There is absolutely no reason to think that the kind of poetry AI can produce will not improve as the technology becomes more sophisticated.

However, it should be emphasized that, based on its current output, there is a very, very long way to go before AI is writing poetry to rival the canon of work that we currently have and the work that is being added to that canon every year. ChatGPT and chatbots like it will revolutionize many aspects of life before they master poetry.

Should we be excited or worried by AI Poetry?


Judging by the current quality of the poetry being produced by AI, readers in search of genuinely impressive, original, or moving work will likely find themselves disappointed. That is not to say that those in search of fun, lighthearted poems, especially those with a degree of anachronism, will not find what they want. This is where AI poetry has the potential to find a readership.

In terms of whether readers should be concerned by the presence of AI poetry, the only real worry is that real poetry may become saturated with poorly written AI poems. This is largely limited to those who encounter poems on social media, where AI poems are most likely to proliferate. Our humble suggestion would be to seek out your local library, where you will be less likely to feel let down by the poetic offerings you find. Once you’ve done that, we’re sure you’ll head straight to Poem Analysis to learn more about the meanings and messages behind your favorite work.

Ultimately Conclusion to AI Poetry, from a Poetry Expert

If nothing else, the current interest in AI and its (reputed) ability to write poetry might well lead to a greater interest in the real thing. At that point, we are confident that readers will see how far AI has to go before it can reasonably be described as a creator of true, impactful, and culturally significant poetry. The good news is that the prospect of AI taking over the world as it does in the movies seems unlikely so long as it can’t write a haiku properly.

So overall, the poetry produced by AI is largely functional and seems to look the part. However, any further examination highlights its flaws almost immediately. There is, therefore, no need to probe any further into the kind of broader philosophical questions about the origins of creativity. If you are interested in those discussions, we would direct you to the blog of the great songwriter and artist Nick Cave who has offered a writer’s perspective on AI generated art. As much as we agree with his sentiments, we’ll wait to offer his arguments until the actual art is worth arguing back against – we’re certainly not there yet.

Ultimately, AI is a tool that is likely to feature increasingly often in our lives from now on. The idea that this tool is ready to produce art, one of the most distinctly human activities, was always far-fetched. Its functionality in search engines, however, could mean that it becomes part of an artist’s process as they may use it for ideas, information, and, one day, a direct challenge while they are honing their work. Perhaps we are more likely to think of AI as comparable to a poet’s pen or a painter’s canvas rather than the artist themselves.

Joe Santamaria Poetry Expert
Joe has a degree in English and Related Literature from the University of York and a Masters in Irish Literature from Trinity College Dublin. He is an English tutor and counts W.B Yeats, Emily Brontë and Federico Garcia Lorca among his favourite poets.
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