Let’s take another poem I just translated and see what Chat GPT makes of it:
End of line
The blinds glare.
Crisp white Christ in Braille.
A neighbour to all. A city in ashes. An egg.
Whether metaphorical language can still be used after Nine Eleven.
Democracy needs a wheel clamp, freedom
is but a concoction of armchair thinkers. Wheels
spin around. Is war a continuation of the soul with different wheels?
By the way, why am I afraid of my keyboard?
I went to Bommel to see the skyscraper.
The Thing approached. I kicked with all my might in triplicate
but someone had built a bridge between civilisations.
Just a note in between for literary criticism.
Get a job, asshole.
Happiness presents itself between the lines. End of line!
There’s a lot in there – references to 911 but also to Nijhoff and Godzilla. The note in between did draw some remarks from critics, but none of them gave it any political context. And yet, I believe this to be perhaps the only officially published poem about 911 in the entire corpus of Dutch poetry.
Think about that for a moment.
World War II happens and 20 years later not a single poem has been published about that event. What does that signify?
On to Chat GPT:
This poem appears to be a reflection on the state of modern society, particularly in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The imagery of the “blinds glare,” “city in ashes,” and “skyscraper” likely references the destruction and fear caused by the attacks. The reference to “Braille” and “neighbour to all” suggests the idea of inclusivity and accessibility, possibly in contrast to the divisive nature of war and terrorism.
The mention of “wheels spin around” and “war as a continuation of the soul with different wheels” implies a cyclical nature to the violence and destruction in society. The speaker also expresses uncertainty about the continued use of metaphorical language after the 9/11 attacks and a sense of fear or unease towards technology with the line “why am I afraid of my keyboard?”
The final lines, “Just a note in between for literary criticism. Get a job, asshole” seems to be a self-deprecating remark, possibly pointing to the idea that the poem is not a perfect work of art but a reflection of the writer’s personal thoughts and feelings, and it is not necessary to have a job to write good poetry.
Overall, this poem explores themes of societal destruction, inclusivity, and the role of poetry in reflecting on current events and personal fears. The poem is significant to modern poetry as it reflects on the impact of 9/11 on society and the world and how it affects the way we express ourselves through poetry.
Ok – not a very deep analysis. Cyclical nature, sure, but also one that brings back the most primitive shapes. Of course no mention of Nijhoff or Godzilla – what does Nijhoff have to do with 911, please sir enlighten us?
The reference to Nijhoff, a Dutch poet and writer, and the reference to Godzilla, a Japanese film character, could indicate the poet’s interest in exploring how the events of September 11th have been represented or perceived in different cultural contexts, and how they have been incorporated into popular culture.
Actually, I think the reference to Nijhof is the most brilliant part of the poem:
Ik ging naar Bommel om de brug te zien.
Ik zag de nieuwe brug. Twee overzijden
die elkaar vroeger schenen te vermijden,
worden weer buren. Een minuut of tien
I went to Bommel to see the bridge.
I saw the new bridge. Two sides
that used to seem to avoid each other,
become neighbours again. About ten minutes
Isn’t that a perfect description of 911? And when you combine Bommel and the Thing (Godzilla) you get
Okay, again Chat GPT performs at the level of the best Dutch poetry critics. Let’s see what it makes of a poem that is a bit less obvious:
Heisenberg was a lonely man.
‘Here lies Werner Heisenberg… somewhere’
On the note of his skull
I would draw your face, as a police portrait.
Would have no trouble pointing out you as the culprit.
Would pick you right out of the incomprehensible mass.
I would split you in two
to sip paraffin with my mouth from
the coconut-white wreckage of your body.
This poem is a commentary on the nature of identity and the human condition, and the way in which individuals are perceived by others. The reference to “Heisenberg” is a reference to the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, who developed the principle of uncertainty in quantum mechanics, which states that it is impossible to simultaneously know certain properties of a particle, such as position and momentum. This principle is often used as a metaphor for the uncertainty and unpredictability of human behavior and identity.
The line “Here lies Werner Heisenberg…somewhere” suggests that the speaker is meditating on the idea of death and the impermanence of human existence, and the way in which individuals can become lost in the “incomprehensible mass” of history and humanity.
The line “I would draw your face, as a police portrait” suggests that the speaker is attempting to make sense of the subject, and to define and understand them through the lens of a police sketch artist. The line “Would have no trouble pointing out you as the culprit. Would pick you right out of the incomprehensible mass” suggests that the speaker believes they have a unique understanding of the subject and that they would be able to identify them among the chaos and confusion of the world.
The final lines “I would split you in two / to sip paraffin with my mouth from / the coconut-white wreckage of your body” are disturbing and violent, and could be interpreted as a commentary on the destructive nature of human desire and the way in which individuals can be reduced to objects for consumption and manipulation.
Overall, this poem is a reflection on the nature of identity and the human condition and the way in which individuals are perceived by others. The reference to Heisenberg and his principle of uncertainty suggest that the speaker is meditating on the idea of death and the impermanence of human existence, and the way in which individuals can become lost in the “incomprehensible mass” of history and humanity. The poem also touches on the idea that understanding and perception is subjective and that the speaker’s way of understanding the subject is violent and destructive.
Frankly: that is quite impressive. It’s still somewhat bland, I would like to hear more about the relationship between a coconut and the principle of uncertainty?
One interpretation could be that the reference to the coconut, a tropical fruit known for its hard exterior and delicate interior, could be used as a metaphor for the idea that individuals can present a certain image or facade to the world, while hiding their true nature or inner turmoil. The image of the coconut-white wreckage suggests that, like a coconut that has been split open, the true nature of the subject is revealed in the aftermath of destruction and that this true nature is something that is delicate, fragile and easily broken.
Another interpretation could be that the imagery of coconut-white wreckage is a metaphor for the uncertain and unpredictable nature of the subject. Just as the insides of a coconut can be difficult to predict or understand, the subject’s true nature is uncertain and unknowable. The image of the speaker drinking paraffin from the wreckage also suggests that the speaker is indulging in something that is dangerous and harmful, both to themselves and to the subject.
In both interpretations, the use of coconut imagery is a metaphor for the uncertainty and unpredictability of the subject, and how this unpredictability is revealed in the aftermath of destruction.
Again, impressive. The overall quality of Dutch literary criticism is so low that any critic can use this engine to greatly improve himself – its just that these aren’t his own abilities.
So we can expect loads of reviews and criticism originating from this engine. It will significantly improve
the overall quality of the criticism, and it will significantly depress the self-image of the person that has to use a machine to pretend to be something he is not.
That depression is what the dystopia feeds on, so this is a perfect move.
On a personal level, however, I can now be sure that the persons that have always accused me of writing ‘nonsense poetry’ are indeed a bunch of very dim intelligences.