ChatGPT does Emily Dickinson writing a recipe for Pad Thai (and haiku too)

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From Scott D. Seligman via Facebook:

  ChatGPT is really creeping me out. I asked it for a recipe for Pad Thai in the form of an Emily Dickinson poem. I'm no poetry maven, but the damned thing seems to have the ability to turn a phrase, at least some of the time.

Below is what I got in response. [Note to Jeanne Larsen, Jenny Shepherd and any other poets or poetesses with
whom I am acquainted: I hear Starbucks may be hiring baristas].

Here goes:
In twilight's whisper, a dish unfolds,
Pad Thai, a tale of flavors untold.
Within the wok's embrace, the dance begins,
As secrets blend with savory sins.
First, gather the strands of rice, so fair,
Whose texture lures and beckons with care.
Boil them gently, till tender and light,
Then drain, refreshing with water's delight.
A symphony of tastes, both sharp and sweet,
The essence of Asia, in sauces complete.
Combine tamarind's tang, a citrus kiss,
With palm sugar's whispers, a caramel bliss.
Now, the canvas awaits, the wok's embrace,
Where ingredients commune, finding their place.
With heat's embrace, let onions dance,
And garlic's aroma, a fragrant trance.
Add shrimps, succulent treasures from the sea,
Or tender strips of chicken, if it be.
Sprinkle ground peanuts, a touch of grace,
And tofu, serene in its humble space.
Toss it all gently, with bean sprouts in tow,
As sunlight reveals sprightly greens that grow.
The melody swells, as eggs take their part,
Scrambled and mingled, a work of fine art.
At last, the rice noodles join the affair,
Coating themselves with flavors that dare.
With each twirl and twist, the harmony binds,
A dish of magnificence, to delight all minds.
Garnish with coriander's herbaceous grace,
And lime's gentle squeeze, like a kiss on the face.
Sprinkle with chilies, a fire in bloom,
To awaken the senses, dispelling all gloom.
Serve on a platter, a masterpiece laid,
Pad Thai, the creation that poets serenade.
A poem in flavors, exquisite and rare,
To savor each morsel, a taste beyond compare.
So, relish this dish, this poem divine,
In Emily's spirit, let your senses entwine.
For in every bite, a story unfolds,
Pad Thai's verse, as timeless as gold.
Scott D. Seligman added:
I also asked ChatGPT to give me the recipe in the form of a haiku. Here's what I got back:
Wok sizzles with zest,
Tossed noodles dance, shrimp and lime,
Pad Thai perfection.

VHM:  I'm at a loss for words.


Selected readings

[h.t. John Rohsenow]


  1. rm said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 12:28 am

    Well, take comfort in one thing, that does not sound anything like Emily Dickinson.

  2. Kristian said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 1:54 am

    Exactly, it's nothing like Emily Dickinson. It's impressive that ChatGPT can write poems at all, but that is a terrible poem.

  3. AG said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 2:59 am

    that's basically the only style of poem it can write – saccharine, stilted couplets. (source: several of my students recently turned in poems like that and admitted chatgpt wrote them when confronted)

  4. Taylor, Philip said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 3:45 am

    I would be the last to defend ChatGPT or any of its ilk, but "saccharine, stilted couplets" seems more than a little unfair to me. If it weren't for the fact that space on our hotel menu is extremely limited, I would seriously consider using the poem to replace our present, somewhat terse, gloss for the dish ! The scansion is admittedly less than perfect (I think that we have previously discussed the fact that ChatGPT (etc.) is/are unware of syllables and/or moræ), and the re-use of "embrace" within a single stanza is rather poor, but overall I think that the poem is quite an achievement.

  5. Paul Frank said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 4:04 am

    Of the hundreds of articles I've read about ChatGPT-4 none has accurately explained what it's good for and what it's not good for. Writing amusing poems with insufficient input from the prompter is not what it's good for. Let me explain what it is good for:

    Clever commentators have said that ChatGPT-4 is autocomplete on steroids. It is that: it can autocomplete text with surprisingly good and unsurprisingly bad results. If you don’t want bad output, never ask ChatGPT a question to which you don’t know the answer or are not giving it the answer. As an autocomplete tool, ChatGPT is clever and amusing but not particularly useful.

    What ChatGPT is uncannily good at is reconverting data or information, including wording and meaningful statements, in different wording, form, or format. To ensure that it does a good job, you must prompt it clearly and specifically by telling it the target documents’ (1) language; (2) purpose; (3) target audience; (4) style (legal brief, academic paper, field research report, newspaper article, etc.); (5) register; (6) format; (7) content; (8) number of words. The most important is content. Also, make sure that you give it more than you ask it to give you. ChatGPT is excellent at rewording, reorganizing, and reformatting words and arguments when you specify that it must not make anything up and only work with the text you give it. To do this specify a word count that is shorter than the text you put in your prompt. Another thing: the initial output will rarely be excellent. But you can ask ChatGPT to tweak or improve it this way or that.

  6. Annie Gottlieb said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 5:01 am


  7. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 8:01 am

    One of the great extra-canonical monuments of English literature is the wonderful volume entitled "The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse," first published in 1930. This is not nearly bad enough in my judgment to (had it been available for consideration by the editors back then) make the cut for inclusion therein. It is merely mediocre.

  8. Carl said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 8:53 am

    ChatGPT cannot reliably count syllables, so it’s haiku are hit or miss. This one is marginal, depending on whether “tossed” is one syllable or two. As I understand it, the problem is the text gets chopped up into tokens before it reaches the neural network, so it can’t tell how many syllables a word is.

  9. Pamela said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 9:01 am

    So agree with the observations that this is nothing like Emily Dickinson–there is a reason why literature is still the province of the human mind. But, in the near future, the database will include an exhaustive enough ED span that they will find Emily's own words for these purposes and mix and match them as needed. I find the chatter about ChatGPT is usually based on reaction to the first response. When you've seen a second and third response, the seams and tacks start to show, and it gets a bit boring. Because it is based on mainstream reference databases, the responses tend to be factually a bit behind the cutting edge, and the BS filler becomes overwhelming in some cases (I think that people who claim they could use this to write opinion pieces or legal briefs probably rely heavily in their own work on stale information and heavy BS filler). It is easy to see how the database will expand to the point that responses might become more current, more subtle, more directed to the actual question, but it is hard to see how they will dispense with templates (and it is the template that shows through so glaringly).

  10. Gene Hill said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 9:34 am

    The defenders of Emily Dickinson seem to have pitted her against the cyber poet, much like John Henry vs the steam drill. So I suppose that Emily has laid down her hammer. And the AI will continue to evolve.

  11. David L said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 10:45 am

    needs moar dashes (among other things)

  12. Gregory Kusnick said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 2:38 pm

    It definitely flunks the "Yellow Rose of Texas" test.

  13. C Baker said,

    June 10, 2023 @ 8:07 pm

    Not enough capitals or em dashes.

  14. KevinM said,

    June 11, 2023 @ 11:43 am

    @ Gregory K. I always heard it as the "Theme from Gilligan's Island" test.
    (Because I could not stop for death/He kindly stopped for me …)
    And yeah, the gpt isn't even in the ED ballpark, metrically or any other way.

  15. RfP said,

    June 11, 2023 @ 5:26 pm

    I don't think the question is whether the poem sounds like it was written by a great—or even a good—poet.

    It's more that the poem sounds like it was written by a person. And ChatGPT is only getting started.

    We as a society have to be a lot more careful than we have been about how and where and when we unleash new technologies. (Global warming, anyone? How about a side order of nuclear weapons?) And that kind of care requires recognizing their strengths as well their weaknesses.

    As a writer, I can see that this particular technology will probably put a lot of people like me out of business—in part because I can see its strengths. If all you do is sit sit back and laugh at it, it just might eat your lunch.

  16. Victor Mair said,

    June 13, 2023 @ 7:26 am

    From a would-be poet:

    I mentioned this to Rich Frachey who posted 3 poems on fb (one on beer drinking, one on nature and one on ramen making in Poe fashion) that made me feel defunct as a quasi-poet.

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