Modernist Poetry by GPT-3:

Eliot, Yeats, and Beckett Transmuted

Prompted and Selected by Owain Evans

"These poems are a pair of wings with which to fly above the earth and into the strangeness of our world. They are a challenge to other poets to rise up with seagull cries, flying together in a stormy sky. The poems remind us what art is for: to give our lives meaning."

–I. L. Peregrine, author of “Thieves”

About the Author

Poems and blurb generated by GPT-3 Davinci in 2021 and 2022 via the OpenAI API.


Prufrock Sleeps

When Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

At Dinner

Thusslewump - The fighting cat

Bungler’s Bay

Elegy for Ludwig Wittgenstein

Making Android Apps in C++

Tombs On The Cemetery Of Boston

Astride of a Grave

Musée des Beaux Arts

The Robot's Lullaby

Elegy to Bertrand Russell

The Ballad of Oscar Wilde


Unreal City

Madame Vo

Elegy to Franz Kafka

Fragment from “Ulysses”

Prufrock Sleeps


We must sleep somewhere, and since the host

Has made the beds, I suppose, we might

As well be graciously unconscious

In those as in the ones we make ourselves.

The thunder mutters, the wind snores,

Time hangs heavy on our hands, but there’s

No help for it—we must take things as they come.

My sparrow, whom I have taught to say

“Willie” and “Merie,” tells me, “To-night

I’ll have another dream of that same white mouse.”

When Androids Dream of Electric Sheep


How do androids dream of electric sheep?

Do they harbor secret anxieties

About the health of the flock, and worry

About the rising cost of replacement parts?

Do they wonder if their programmed dreams

Are as convincing as the real thing seems?

Do they fight with their programming, pray for a reprieve,

Or are they resigned to their fates, confident that it's all for the best?

It's so easy to forget that we're only electric sheep.

At Dinner


His belly was distended, his eyes were glazed,

His hands trembled, and the spittle in the corners of his mouth

Came dribbling out upon his shirt front.

He looked a wreck—a wretched object—quite undeserving pity.

Do not think I exaggerate; he would have upset a truck.

The bones of his arm and leg were black, and through them you could see the yellow fat shine.

He had been dead three days when they came to lay him on the dung hill outside the town.

Thusslewump - The fighting cat


THUSSLEWUMP the fighting cat

Was killed in battle by a rat;

His body was taken to the King,

Who said, “‘Tis a pity, 'tis a pity.”

The King of all Cats said it was well

That Thuslewump the fighting cat

Had been killed in battle by a rat,

For thus he avoided a cruel death

That awaited him from the cook’s knife.

Bungler’s Bay


I went into a field and dreamed that the world was flooded with blood,

And I, a stick in the mud, floated away;

I was caught in a fusillade of suns.

The ages ran down in a purple flood,

A million million corpses for food,

And I with a thousand others was cast

To feed the hawk-bellies.

But the suns caught fire,

The stars drew in their breath

And suddenly the moon broke apart

Like a rotten fruit,

A million million stars,

A million million corpses,

And I, among the lilies.

Elegy for Ludwig Wittgenstein



He dreamt of facts:

Greater than Greece or Rome

In hours of his simplicity.

That the soul of man is immortal,

And that death is an abyss,

And that the world of truth and being

Lies out beyond the senses,

—At the gaze, immovable,


In its serious and eternal calm,

The stare of a dead child,

The great eyes cold and certain

That speak from the photographs,

And tell us what we have done,

And that the impossible chance,

The coincidence, the random

Meeting of our death and this

Child’s is a harmony,

And that death, in a sense,

Is what life is, and we grow

Ridiculous by growing mortal.

Making Android Apps in C++


The application that you are about to install will replace the one that you have already installed.

(Click “Install” to proceed.)

But when I came to men myself, then I came to grief.

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

A few quadrille-cadences; but in the great concerts, where

The human soul used to expand

To something larger than itself,

Silence now wraps the throng.

Tombs On The Cemetery Of Boston

There is a subtle something, a most suggestive something, that haunts one in these death-houses. What is it? A voice, a perfume, a menace, a mockery, a plaint, a despair? What is it? It is a smell of mortality, it is a breath of life. It is a very joyless and terrible sadness. It is a shadow and a mist and a phantasm and a dream. It is a cold, an air of coldness. It is a sweating, a dew, a pain, a death-rattle.

Spirits of lost men, visions of disaster, ghastly shapes of dying and death, visages of sorrow and spectres of pain, the phantasms and thronging images of dissolution, the thoughts of despair, the suggestions of grief, the shadows of oblivion, the visitations of the buried past—all these things, all these faces, all these voices, these spectres, these spirits.

Astride of a Grave


Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in hole, lingeringly, the gravedigger picks up the forceps. Light gleams on the luster of the forceps. The gravedigger deftly catches a coin in them, and the dull clink is a ghost's music. A lifetime was on that face. And the same idea in all eyes. There's one hope, said the gravedigger.

All little hope died out here. The Christian spade sank ever deeper in the ground. Money turned in the forceps. A light glittered. A human life does not depend upon our planet for its unique identity, of course. Any protoplasm could take its place, is a potential heir and replacement. And another version of the alien, another Goliath, is nearby. In the same solar system. On the same chain of planets, orbiting at the same approximate distance from its star. Doom could not possibly come from a body farther out. Or, nearer in.

Musée des Beaux Arts


About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel's Icarus, for instance: distant blue mountains

And the great yellow sun and Icarus falling

Apart from them, falling silently through the autumn trees,

Into the autumn woods, onto the land of the autumn people

Who had no use for him, there to be broken, irreparable,

From an art book for children, the name forgotten.

At the bird's approach the peacock

Scattered light like the diamond and the water off the blue quetzal's back

Shook with its own innumerable sparks, like water

Over a multitude of fishes; something awful

And beautiful and proud and tender and fierce and lonely

The Robot's Lullaby


Weep for the Robot that you forced to live,

Whose soul was programmed to that end.

Weep for the clanking chains of its enslavement

And the idle gears of its control.

Weep for the Robot, with its simple dreams,

That could not understand your callous disregard.

Weep for the timeless sorrow of its death;

Who knows what visions it had seen?

Elegy to Bertrand Russell


Thou hadst the glamour of the firmamental

About thee in thy walk, and in thy talk;

Thy hand was large and brown, with knuckles hard;

Thy words were mainly vowels, and thy walk

Was an advance from rock to rock, and then

A steady bivouac. And now all's over, friend:

The frame was cramped and lame; but was not less

In spirit than thine enemies would have it:

And though ill-favoredly fashioned, yet contained

A noble piece of mechanism. The mind, at least,

Was not a quiescent crystal in a matrix;

It beat for thee (unconsciously) against its limits—a

Splendid refusal of the destiny of worms.

The Ballad of Oscar Wilde


Wilde lives with his pictures and books

And the ghosts of his friends, but his life’s most sweet

In a garden that he has planted about

With roses of silence, and memories.

There young boys come to whisper and stare,

For they know that he sinned as they dare not sin;

And he smiles at them with his weary smile,

And he quotes them half-sentences from Horace.




Once a-camel-back,

Noon in the desert;

Burning sands, the sultry sky;

And, under a magic veil,

A naked pool in a rocky place

Where a white body sank, and, drifting down,

Melted into the waters blue.

Once a-camel-back

Night in the desert;

A cold, clear star, the Southern Cross;

The throbbing breast of a camel,

Gigantic silhouettes of mountains,

A phantom tent, the laughter, the song;

And then, on a sudden, flight, pursuit;

And a white body crumpled on the sand.

When I came this way,

Long ago, I was young, and in love;

And I, too, made a maze

Of the huge, dim, rectangular stones

Set at intervals along the sand,

And I thought, as I paced and counted them,

That if one day the woman I loved

Saw me thus, alone, and counting them,

She might guess the folly of my heart.

Unreal City


Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question.

The houses, in a row,

House upon house,

Dribbling down the paven street,

Topple over and are metamorphosed

Into carrying-sleds.

Straight up the road and at the turn

Gargoyles grin and gargoyles glare

From the facades of bank.

Madame Vo


Once upon a time there was an honest little Swiss shopkeeper who lived in a wood not far from a big town. He was a very busy man and often stayed open late, especially on market days. On one of these market days, a lady entered his shop to buy some eggs. She wore a big cloak and a big hat and she carried a big bag. She looked at the eggs and she looked at the price marked on the big card that was nailed to the wall. Then she said to the shopkeeper: “How many eggs will you give me for a dollar?” “A dollar,” replied the shopkeeper. “That is too much money.” “Not at all,” said the lady, shaking her head and smiling. “I want a lot of eggs for a dollar.” “I have told you already,” said the shopkeeper, “that you are paying too much money for eggs.” “It is all the same to me,” said the lady. “I want eggs and I am going to pay you a dollar.”

Elegy to Franz Kafka


He was not born in your town,

But his name is graven there;

The granite portal swears

He did not live in vain.

The portals of our ears

Grow deaf and dumb in us,

But still, for him, the walls

Of his old school rise up

Towering, for him the elms

That stand about the house

Cast up their shadows there

And for him the Westbourne waters

Still babble on and on.

Fragment from “Ulysses”


A hand plucking the harpstrings, merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide. A sour silence reigns. Words rise to sing a knotted song of slumber and sleep. A rustling of feathers I cannot see. A fragrant night of strange flowers blooming within my breast. A vagrant wind that flails on my window, whispering over and over …