Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Generating a sonnet -- human vs computer

     News last month from UC Berkeley's School of Information described a computer that writes poetry. In particular, it writes sonnets.  This article describes in much detail the creation of several sonnet stanzas.  This link offers the winner in Dartmouth's 2016 PoetiX sonnet-generation competition -- in which Berkeley earned a second.  Here, from an article in Slate, is an example of what Berkeley's generator produced:

    Kindred pens my path lies where a flock of
    feast in natures mysteries an adept
    you are my songs my soft skies shine above
    love after my restless eyes I have kept.  

    A sacrament soft hands that arch embowed
    stealing from nature her calm thoughts which throng
    their little loves the birds know when that cloud
    anticipation is the throat of song.

    I love you for in his glorious rise
    on desert hills at eve are musical
    the ancients knew a way to paradise
    pulses of the mystic tale no fable.

    With sudden fear when immortality
    might be like joy the petty billows try.

     To compare with the sonnet above, here are links to several mathy sonnets posted earlier in this blog and generated by humans: by Edgar Allan Poe; by Edna St. Vincent Millay; by Jordie Albiston; by Leslie Wheeler; by Joyce Nower.  These and a host of additional examples of sonnets from earlier posts in this blog may be found by doing a blog Search using "sonnet."


  1. Things have certainly come a long way since the early days of computer-generated poetry. If you'd like to see a very early example, check out Shakespeare's Sonnet Generator. This website implements a 1991 algorithm by poet Dave Morice that produces somewhat coherent sonnets by mixing and matching carefully chosen lines from Shakespeare's poetry.