Got bored during lunch and tried an experiment with GPT-4:


Write an italian sonnet about the difficulty of building a writing habit.


Nell’attimo in cui la penna tocca carta bianca,
La mente si perde nell’abisso del dubbio.
Come fiume che si rifiuta di seguire il suo corso,
L’ispirazione si nasconde, lasciandomi a mani vuote.

Cerco le parole tra le pieghe del silenzio,
Ma il foglio resta intatto, immacolato, sterile.
La routine è un nemico, insidioso e furtivo,
Che ruba la creatività, lasciando solo l’eco del vuoto.

Ma nel cuore dell’oscurità, una luce balugina,
Un pensiero, un’idea, un filo d’inchiostro si dispiega.
L’abitudine è un muratore, costruisce ponti, non mura,
E il fiume delle parole, infine, si risveglia.

Così, ogni giorno, lentamente, la penna si muove,
E la pagina bianca diventa un racconto d’amore e di prove.


Hah! I meant a sonnet in the Italian style (as opposed to a Shakespearean one). But a sonnet actually IN Italian is pretty fun, too. Could you please do two things: 1) Give me a translation of the above “Italian sonnet”, and (2) write a second sonnet–in English–but in the Italian (petrarchan) style, on the same subject.


Of course, here’s the translation of the Italian sonnet:

In the moment when the pen touches white paper,
The mind loses itself in the abyss of doubt.
Like a river refusing to follow its course,
Inspiration hides, leaving me empty-handed.

I search for words in the folds of silence,
But the page remains intact, immaculate, sterile.
Routine is an enemy, insidious and stealthy,
Stealing creativity, leaving only the echo of emptiness.

But in the heart of darkness, a light glimmers,
A thought, an idea, a thread of ink unfolds.
Habit is a builder, it constructs bridges, not walls,
And the river of words, at last, awakens.

So, every day, slowly, the pen moves,
And the blank page becomes a tale of love and trials.

And now for an English sonnet in the Italian (Petrarchan) style:

Upon the barren plain of white, I stand,
The scribe’s relentless duty in my hand.
My thoughts, once swift, now stagnant as a pond,
The stream of inspiration seems beyond.

Each day I face this quiet, daunting fight,
Against the emptiness, I must ignite
A spark within my mind, a kindled flame,
To dance upon the page, to stake its claim.

Yet, in the struggle, something pure unfolds,
A rhythm born of constancy takes hold.
The habit, once a foe, becomes a friend,
A means to coax the muse, the silence end.

Thus, daily wrestle shapes a writer’s art,
In steady beats, the story finds its start.

So: my Italian is limited to asking for the location of a toilet, buying cigarettes and beer, and asking for the check. Anyone more fluent care to comment on GPT’s performance, here? As for the poetry itself: I will note that neither of these is actually in the proper form. I was looking for something made up of one octet followed by one sestet (and no final couplet), with the rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA (although I’d also accept ABABABAB) for the eight line stanza, and either CDECDE, CDCCDC, or CDCDCD for the six line stanza.