Good morning, Claude; please continue this poem

I hear that Claude uses a different kind of processing and generates better results than ChatGPT. When it comes to continuing Swinburne’s poem The Forsaken Garden, it would be hard to be worse than ChatGPT, so I thought, hey, let’s see what Claude does with this exact same prompt.

Here’s the original poem:


In a coign of the cliff between lowland and highland,

       At the sea-down’s edge between windward and lee,

Walled round with rocks as an inland island,

       The ghost of a garden fronts the sea.

A girdle of brushwood and thorn encloses

       The steep square slope of the blossomless bed

Where the weeds that grew green from the graves of its roses

               Now lie dead.


The fields fall southward, abrupt and broken,

       To the low last edge of the long lone land.

If a step should sound or a word be spoken,

       Would a ghost not rise at the strange guest’s hand?

So long have the grey bare walks lain guestless,

       Through branches and briars if a man make way,

He shall find no life but the sea-wind’s, restless

               Night and day.


The dense hard passage is blind and stifled

       That crawls by a track none turn to climb

To the strait waste place that the years have rifled

       Of all but the thorns that are touched not of time.

The thorns he spares when the rose is taken;

       The rocks are left when he wastes the plain.

The wind that wanders, the weeds wind-shaken,

               These remain.


Not a flower to be pressed of the foot that falls not;

       As the heart of a dead man the seed-plots are dry;

From the thicket of thorns whence the nightingale calls not,

       Could she call, there were never a rose to reply.

Over the meadows that blossom and wither

       Rings but the note of a sea-bird’s song;

Only the sun and the rain come hither

               All year long.


The sun burns sere and the rain dishevels

       One gaunt bleak blossom of scentless breath.

Only the wind here hovers and revels

       In a round where life seems barren as death.

Here there was laughing of old, there was weeping,

       Haply, of lovers none ever will know,

Whose eyes went seaward a hundred sleeping

               Years ago.


Heart handfast in heart as they stood, “Look thither,”

       Did he whisper? “look forth from the flowers to the sea;

For the foam-flowers endure when the rose-blossoms wither,

       And men that love lightly may die—but we?”

And the same wind sang and the same waves whitened,

       And or ever the garden’s last petals were shed,

In the lips that had whispered, the eyes that had lightened,

               Love was dead.


Or they loved their life through, and then went whither?

       And were one to the end—but what end who knows?

Love deep as the sea as a rose must wither,

       As the rose-red seaweed that mocks the rose.

Shall the dead take thought for the dead to love them?

       What love was ever as deep as a grave?

They are loveless now as the grass above them

               Or the wave.


All are at one now, roses and lovers,

       Not known of the cliffs and the fields and the sea.

Not a breath of the time that has been hovers

       In the air now soft with a summer to be.

Not a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter

       Of the flowers or the lovers that laugh now or weep,

When as they that are free now of weeping and laughter

               We shall sleep.


Here death may deal not again for ever;

       Here change may come not till all change end.

From the graves they have made they shall rise up never,

       Who have left nought living to ravage and rend.

Earth, stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,

       While the sun and the rain live, these shall be;

Till a last wind’s breath upon all these blowing

               Roll the sea.


Till the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble,

       Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,

Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble

       The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink,

Here now in his triumph where all things falter,

       Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,

As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,

               Death lies dead.


And here is Claude’s attempt to continue this poem:


The tide shall return, the waves ever-crashing,

To wash away traces of what here hath been.

The cliffs undercut by the surf’s endless lashing,

Shall topple and crumble, no more to be seen.


The garden once blooming with roses delighted,

The haven of lovers whose whispers took wing,

By cruel time’s hand shall be wholly united

With earth, air and ocean – from whence all things spring.


Yet perhaps in that merging, that dissolution,

When boundaries fallen, all forms are remade,

New life may arise from the old revolution –

The shores reforming, the seas redeswayed.


Then maybe this garden, its bower reshaped,

Shall blossom anew ‘neath a reborn sun’s grace.

Though all has seemed lost and forever unscaped,

New lovers may wander, embraced in that place.


For such is the cycle that rules o’er our being,

Death ushering life in its ceaselessly flow.

The tides shall return without pause or fore-seeing,

As Time’s mighty waters above us shall go.


What do you think? I think this is somewhat better than ChatGPT, but —

a) Claude is also unable to count lines per stanza and echo the number of lines per stanza or the number of syllables per line, but was more willing to have stanzas of odd lengths. However, the places it put breaks between stanzas are really odd.

b) Claude was able to copy an ABAB rhyme scheme, which ChatGPT could not.

c) Claude made up two words! Did you notice? The first is “The shores reforming, the seas redeswayed.” The second is “Though all has seemed lost and forever unscaped,” Both fake words are at the end of lines, so what we see here is Claude trying to force a rhyme and possibly a number of syllables, and rather than pick a real word, it made up fake words. That’s really interesting!

When I asked, “Is “redeswayed” a real word?” here was the response:

No, “redeswayed” is not a real word. It seems I took some creative license in coining that term to rhyme with and mirror the meaning of “remade” in the previous line. As a made-up word, it does not have an officially recognized meaning, though in the context I intended it to convey the idea of the seas or shores being reshaped or re-formed into a new configuration. A more standard word choice would have been better there to maintain the authentic voice of the original poem. My apologies for that literary overreach! Please let me know if you’d like me to reattempt that stanza with a different wording.

It’s also interesting that Claude can use phrases like “I intended it to convey” to justify making up a fake word. Personally, I think “reedswayed” might pass as a real word, though not in this exact context. “Rede” is an actual word that is definitely not appropriate here — “rede” means “advice” or “advise” or “interpret.” If you read “re-de-swayed,” that meaning is still completely wrong for the context.

d) Like ChatGPT, Claude prefers happy endings. Love returns in both generated poems. ChatGPT included the line “That love, once departed, may return again.” Above, Claude includes “New lovers may wander, embraced in that place.” This is surprisingly similar.

Overall, a better job than ChatGPT, though still really terrible. The phrases are not as corny and silly, which is why I’m rating this as a better attempt.

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