My brother-in-law Tony was visiting for the long weekend and we investigated the capabilities of ChatGPT-4 to help us write the lyrics for two new tracks. We also wanted to see how well it would do analyzing a poem Tony wrote. The analysis of poems requires a deeper understanding of language and requires looking beyond the meaning of just the words themselves. Here is Tony’s poem:
Time Took by Tony Pederson
Ending each intrepid endeavor
Wrangling warbling withering
Hither and thither, yawning
Through bleary bliss full dawning
Until dazed dies, decays, and fades
Feeding fortune forth
And back we read the bleeding leaves
Teaming without seeming to signify
Identity to our tunneled chrono-logic
These drops justify, testify, and invest us
They flare from burst stars
They crawl and course
Ofttimes they wait in crusted cosmo-logic
The quilted ground of our being,
From which we are knit
Has slipped unbridled
Through long time
To this thought, this spot,
Its passing paints every wave of our life
We grab and graft and grope,
Stilted by its going
Immersed in this thirst
We are awash in seeds.
When has only just begun
We ache for our arrival
Miss the mess that we depart
Never knowing what we seed
Coaxing that future boat
By blowing on its sail
From a million miles away
Time took― Tony Pederson
Analysis by ChatGPT
We asked ChatGPT-4 to write an analysis and interpretation of this poem.
“Time Took” by Tony is a poem that explores the theme of time, its passage, and its effects on our lives. The poem is written in free verse, without a set rhyme or meter, which gives it a meandering and contemplative tone.
The poem begins with the idea of togetherness, suggesting that time is something that we experience together, as a shared human experience. The speaker describes the passage of time as a series of endeavors, which are at times warbling and withering, suggesting the ups and downs of life. The use of the word “yawing” creates an image of disorientation, as if time is something that we struggle to keep up with.
The poem then goes on to describe the passing of time, which the speaker sees as a process of decay and fading. The idea of “bleeding leaves” suggests the passing of seasons, and the cycles of birth and death that are a part of life. The speaker suggests that these cycles of life and death are what give our lives meaning and purpose.
The poem then moves on to describe time as something that justifies, testifies, and invests us. The use of the metaphor of “burst stars” and “crusted cosmo-logic” suggests the vastness and complexity of time, and how it is woven into the very fabric of the universe. The speaker suggests that our identity is shaped by time, and that it is something that we are both a part of and separate from.
The poem ends with the idea that time is something that both teases and takes, and that it ultimately takes everything. The use of the phrase “time seeds” suggests that time is something that creates and gives birth to new life, even as it takes away the old. The final lines of the poem suggest a sense of longing and loss, as the speaker reflects on the passing of time and its effects on our lives.
Overall, “Time Took” is a thoughtful and introspective poem that explores the theme of time and its effects on our lives. The poem is full of rich imagery and metaphors, which help to convey the complexity and depth of the subject matter.― ChatGPT-4
The overall analysis is good on the surface. The model understands the major themes of the poem but is missing many of the nuances. It is not picking up on the hinted homophones or the notion that in our decay we are leaving seeds behind for the future.
We specifically asked ChatGPT-4 to look into those aspect of the poem and write a new analysis.
Second Analysis by ChatGPT-4
“Time Took” by Tony is a poem that grapples with the passage of time and its impact on our lives. The words spill out in a haphazard fashion, with no set meter or rhyme scheme to constrain their flow. This gives the poem a raw, unfiltered feel, like a shot of whiskey down the gullet.
The imagery in the poem is stark and evocative. The speaker describes time as something that wrangles, warbles, withers, and fades. It’s a force that we are all subject to, whether we like it or not. The use of the word “yawing” is particularly striking, suggesting that time is something we struggle to keep up with, like a boat tossed about on rough seas.
But amidst all this bleakness, the poem finds moments of beauty and hope. The speaker describes how the drops of time “justify, testify, and invest us,” like stars bursting forth and coursing through the universe. The use of the phrase “crusted cosmo-logic” conjures up images of distant galaxies and cosmic mysteries, reminding us of the vastness and complexity of time.
The poem also plays with language in an interesting way. The use of words that sound alike but have different meanings (like “here” and “hear”) creates a sense of ambiguity and playfulness. It’s like the poem is winking at us, saying “pay attention, there’s more here than meets the ear.”
Overall, “Time Took” is a poem that confronts us with the relentless passage of time and its effects on our lives. But it’s also a reminder that new life is always starting, and that each moment is a seed that will one day bear fruit. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking work, full of raw emotion and poetic beauty.― ChatGPT-4
In this case, ChatGPT-4 integrated too much of the prompt guidance directly into the response, e.g. the attempt to explain homophones. Finding a connection between “yawning” and “yawing” is a step in the right direction but not directly related to the poem.
Finally, we asked ChatGPT-4 to write a response poem in the style of Charles Bukowksi and specifically asked the model to not directly quote from the poem.
Tony, my friend, your words they flow
Like a river that’s never known the word “slow”
They speak of time and its endless march
Of life’s ups and downs, its pain and its arch
Your lines are raw, unfiltered, and real
They hit us hard, they make us feel
The passing of time, the ache of its take
But also the joy, the hope, the seed we make
Your imagery is vivid, it paints a picture
Of stars bursting forth, of a universe richer
Of drops that justify, testify, invest us
And of the beauty that we find, even in rust
Your words play with language, they twist and they turn
They create ambiguity, they make us learn
Of the power of words, of their depth and their play
And of the many meanings that can lead us astray
So let time take what it will, my friend― ChatGPT-4
We’ll raise a glass to the seeds we sow until the end
And though the future’s unknown, and the past is gone
We’ll keep on writing, keep on living, keep on moving on