If you’re an aspiring poet who doesn’t know your sonnets from your stanzas, a new Google AI app could transform you into a legendary wordsmith. Or at least, a decent impersonation of one.

Verse by Verse is described by the Big G as “an experimental AI-powered muse that helps you compose poetry inspired by classic American poets.” It’s powered by a combination of two machine learning models: a generator trained on lauded poetry, and a second model that decides which of its verses would fit your next line.

You can choose up to three classic poets as inspiration, and then select a form, rhyme scheme, and syllable count for your creation. Finally, you feed the AI an opening line and let your muses complete the verse.

I went for a mix of Edgar Allan Poe, the master of horror; Phillis Wheatley, America‘s first published Black poet; and Emily Dickinson, whose fondness for self-isolation should provide timely inspiration.

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I didn’t want to inhibit the creativity of my muses, so set the form to free-verse and the syllable count to any. For the first lines, I stole a jolly refrain from the perfect poem for pandemic life: A Litany in the Time of Plague by Thomas Nashe.

I am sick, I must die.
Lord have mercy on us!

Credit: Google
Poe was particularly adept at encapsulating the spirit of the age.

Google suggests treating the poets as partners who offer suggestions rather than instructions. But like most attempts to squeeze creativity out of AI, the results are more imitation than inspiration. Nonetheless, it’s a welcome effort to introduce more people to poetry — and could give lazy verse-makers a shortcut to success.


Published November 24, 2020 — 15:07 UTC