Testing the Poetic Qualities of Anthropics Claude AI

Testing the Poetic Qualities of Anthropic’s Claude AI

The following poem ‘The Wasteland Revisited‘ is a first draft created by Anthropic’s Claude.ai. I fed it an unpublished Poem named ‘Pembrey‘ and asked it to use this as the base of a new poem named ‘The Wasteland’. Claude.ai obviously took this as a reference to TS Elliot’s masterpiece.

The prompt itself was very simplistic. It consisted of: ‘take the attached poem as an example and write a poem about ‘The Wasteland”

As context, Pembrey refers to an estuary in South Wales which is well known for its shellfish and Salt Marsh lamb. The area is an old stomping ground for Dylan Thomas and It was also used some time ago as a rocket and missile testing area.

Claude AI’s Poem

The Wasteland Revisited 

Smokestacks spewing toxic fumes, 
Chimneys coughing blackened plumes.
Rusted factories, their windows blown,
Once alive with whirring gears, now just bones.

Train tracks snaking through barren land, 
No sound of engines, empty and manned.
Ghosts of workers tread familiar streets,
Their footsteps echo where industry once beat.

The river runs murky, its current slowed,
Choked by garbage its clean flow forebode.  
Willows weep by the bank, branches bent and bowed,
Mourning the death of their home so proud.

Civilization's cast offs scatter the ground,
Profaning the silence without a sound. 
Empty cans, broken bottles, remnants abound,
Scar the earth where joy and life once resound.

This world so abandoned, entombed in despair,
The wasteland reopened, laid cold and bare.
Progress expired, its brief life infrared, 
What remains is forgotten, the living long dead.

The Original Source Poem


Flat, flat mud, a brown soup ooze
Tipped from a china white bowl,
Slides into the unseen distance
An unbroken foetid richness of nutrients and decay
Danger and beauty life and sustenance
A swirling turbulent child, menacing tributary
Catching the unwary with silent, charged speed
Black rotten stumps drunk with age
Black rotted birds with open draped wings
Waiting for the moment of attack
Screaming overhead, moving in for the kill
Swift predatory movement
Dark finned bomb bursts of orange yellow blossom
Against low murmuring trees on a distant shoreline

Sample of Ts Elliot’s The Wasteland

Note: See the prompt above. This was not used as input to the process, I simply asked for the generated poem has a title of ‘The Wasteland’

  I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

The Following is Claude AI’s review of its own work

Here is my analysis of the poem “The Wasteland Revisited” generated by Claude.ai:

Overall, the poem effectively captures the theme and imagery of an industrial wasteland. It makes use of vivid descriptive language to paint a bleak setting of abandoned factories, polluted rivers, and urban decay. The repetition of words like “rusted,” “rotten,” and “murky” emphasizes the dilapidation and contamination of the landscape.

The poem reflects several features reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s style in “The Wasteland”:

  • Use of free verse with uneven line lengths and lack of a strict rhyme scheme
  • Allusions to the passing of time and the cycles of life and death (“Once alive with whirring gears, now just bones”)
  • Evocative imagery centering on environmental degradation (“The river runs murky, its current slowed, Choked by garbage its clean flow forebode”)
  • A melancholic, meditative tone contemplating the decline of industry and civilization
  • Vivid sensory details to capture the setting (“Empty cans, broken bottles, remnants abound”)

However, there are some distinguishing elements:

  • More direct language versus Eliot’s denser, more complex poetics
  • A clearer linear narrative versus Eliot’s fragmented, collage-like approach
  • Less emphasis on literary/mythical allusions and multiple speaker voices

Overall, while derived from Eliot’s modernist masterpiece, the AI-generated poem crafts a focused vignette with its own original voice meditating on an industrial wasteland. It succeeds in channeling the thematic essence of “The Wasteland” into a contemporary interpretation of urban and environmental decay.

Claude AI