Bot  or Not

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of victory

As he defeated – dying
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

Is this the work of a human or a computer algorithm that learned how to write verse after being fed millions of  words from online poetry books and literary journals?

Computer programs actually can generate interesting poems by learning from a human author.

“Some successful poems have been generated by feeding a program all the works by a human poet,” explains Joann Ordille, assistant professor of computer science. “The program develops a model for how the human poet writes and then creates poems that match that model while also avoiding direct plagiarism.”

Programs also can be trained by works of multiple authors, but as the body of work grows, the chance of unappealing poetic variations also increases, she adds.

Take a look at this sample of prosaic profundity. Written by a human hand or spit out by a bot?

I think I’ll crash.
Just for myself with God
peace on a curious sound
for myself in my heart?
And life is weeping
From a bleeding heart
of boughs bending
such paths of them,
of boughs bending
such paths of breeze
knows we’ve been there



While it may seem indistinguishable from human craftsmanship, the second poem was generated by a cybernetic poet created by Google’s resident futurist and computer scientist Ray Kurzweil. It generates short poems in the styles of various human poets, incorporating computer-based language analysis and mathematical modeling techniques.

“I Think I’ll Crash” was composed after the system read poems by Kurzweil, Robert Frost, and Wendy Dennis.

The first one?

“Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson