Can AI Write Poetry About Norway? Let’s Find Out

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Did you know you could use AI to create fun poetry about Norway, its breathtaking landscapes and its culture? All it takes is a few keystrokes and a bit of careful prompt crafting. But don’t worry, we’ll help you with that.

Artificial intelligence technology has burst into the mainstream over the last year. AI tools can be used to assist with creative writing, including poetry.

Illustration of a robot writing poetry in Norway. Image: David Nikel / AI.
Illustration of a robot writing poetry in Norway. Image: DALL-E 3 via Chat GPT AI.

But, I hear you ask, can a non-human poet really capture the crisp, fresh air of Norwegian fjords, the dazzling northern lights, and the charming streets of Oslo? And if they can, should they?

Well, let’s say you just came back from a trip to the fjords. You took hundreds of pictures and decided to create a photo book with some of the best shots.

It’s always nice to have a bit of text to go with the pictures, but that makes the whole task of making the photo book that much more daunting. Who has time for that?

Why not generate a bit of AI poetry to echo the emotions in your photos, adding a layer of depth and resonance to your visual story? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.

So, are you ready to see Norway through a whole new lens? Scroll down, and let's embark on this poetic journey together, blurring the lines between art and technology.

AI’s Emergence Into Our Lives

2023 is when the potential of AI was revealed to the masses. At work, it can help automate tasks, write computer code, help with things such as translation and proofreading.

At home, it can suggest recipes based on what you have in the fridge, sort your pictures based on what’s on them, or even help you learn Norwegian.

But aside from these very utilitarian objectives, AI can also be used to have a bit of fun. Let’s explore how it can be used to create AI poetry.

A girl reading a poem by a fjord in Norway.

By the way, I use the paid premium plan for ChatGPT at OpenAI, which gives me limited access to the new GPT-4 model. It costs $20 per month, but the regular tool is completely free. All the following examples use GPT-4.

Example 1: A Simple Poem About Norway

Let’s start with the basics. ChatGPT works by just asking it what you want it to do – or prompting it, if you want to sound all technical.

For this first example, I decided to go for a very simple prompt.

My prompt: Can you write a poem about Norway?

AI response: Absolutely, here's a poem celebrating the beauty and spirit of Norway:

In the Heart of the North:

In the heart of the North, where the fjords kiss the sky,
Lies a land of the midnight sun, where dreams never die.
Majestic mountains stand, in silent might,
Guarding the secrets of the Northern Light.

Emerald forests whisper tales of yore,
Echoing the sagas of the Viking lore.
The sea's rhythmic song, a timeless call,
Binding the heart of Norway, enthralling us all.

In winter, the snow cloaks the land in white,
A canvas for the dance of the Aurora's light.
The cities, a blend of the new and the old,
Tell stories of warmth, in the crisp, biting cold.

In summer, the sun refuses to rest,
Illuminating fjords in their emerald best.
The midnight sun, in its golden hue,
Bathes the land in a light, pure and true.

From the rugged peaks to the serene coast,
Norway's beauty, a perennial boast.
In its rivers, its valleys, its infinite sky,
Lives the spirit of Norway, where dreams never die.

In this land of the North, where legends reside,
The heart of Norway beats, with enduring pride.
A testament to nature, to history's song,
In the heart of the North, where the fjords kiss the sky.

Not bad right? Now let’s try a slightly more complex prompt.

Example 2: Giving the AI More Specific Instructions

Now that we’ve seen what the AI can do with a very simple prompt, let’s try giving it more detailed instructions. Let’s assume that you just came back from a northern lights cruise and want a poem to convey the sense of wonder and excitement you experienced during the trip.

My prompt: Can you write a poem about a trip to the North of Norway to see the northern lights for the first time? The poem should convey the buildup of excitement as a traveller sails northwards in the winter darkness, together with other travellers. Some nights, the clouds are in the way, some nights the sky is clear but there are no northern lights to be seen. And suddenly one night they are there, quiet but dazzling, in what becomes the poem's climax.

AI response:

Journey to the Aurora

In the heart of winter's embrace, we sailed towards the night,
A quest for the Northern Lights, a dance of ethereal light.
Northward bound, through dark seas, under a starlit dome,
Seeking the elusive spectacle, far from the warmth of home.

With fellow travellers, hearts alight with hopeful dreams,
We journeyed through the Arctic night, following celestial beams.
The cold air whispers of ancient tales, in the silent, dark expanse,
Each wave a story, each star a guide, in this cosmic dance.

Some nights, the clouds, like sentinels, barred our eager sight,
Hiding the heavens' secrets, in their soft, enshrouding might.
We stood on deck, in patient wait, under the shrouded dome,
The aurora's mystery, just beyond grasp, in the Arctic's frosted home.

Other nights, the sky unveiled, a canvas vast and clear,
Yet, the lights we sought stayed shy, evading us, so near.
Our hearts clung to fleeting hope, in the winter's endless night,
Yearning for the magic hidden, just beyond our sight.

Then, in one breathless moment, the skies began to sing,
A silent symphony of light, in the winter's icy ring.
Green and violet, in silent grace, they danced across the night,
A dream of colors, vivid, bright, in their quiet, majestic flight.

Auroras twirled in ghostly waltz, across the polar sky,
A dance of distant suns and winds, beneath the cosmic eye.
In awe we stood, a spellbound crew, beneath the celestial glow,
The Northern Lights, in their full might, a mesmerising show.

In that climax of light and wonder, time seemed to pause and bend,
A moment of pure enchantment, where earth and heavens blend.
The journey's quest, at last fulfilled, under the Arctic light,
In the heart of Norway's winter, we found the magic night.

We sailed back home, hearts full and bright, under the morning's glow,
Carrying memories of the lights, and the Arctic's silent snow.
In the dance of the Northern Lights, we found a timeless tale,
A journey of wonder, beneath the winter veil.

See how you can direct the AI to respect a theme and a structure by giving it a slightly more detailed prompt? The key is to write a clear prompt: read it carefully before pressing “enter” to make sure it’s detailed enough and easy to understand.

If you’re not entirely satisfied, you can ask for changes. To show how this is done, I imagined a scenario where I forgot an important detail in the initial prompt.

This can be done by simply answering to the AI’s first attempt, as if it were a conversation – which it kind of is, really.

My prompt: During the journey, before we saw the northern lights, we got to see a humpback whale. This was a very moving moment for many of the people on the ship. Could you rewrite the poem to include that detail, while keeping the northern lights storyline intact?

AI response:

Voyage to the Arctic Light

In the heart of winter's clasp, we ventured through the night,
Bound for northern realms, in search of the Aurora's light.
Through the Arctic's dark embrace, under a canvas of stars,
We sailed with hopes alight, towards the polar bars.

Among us, travellers of every strand, with dreams in their eyes,
Eager for the dance of lights, beneath the Arctic skies.
The night air whispered ancient lore, in the moon's silver glow,
Guiding our path northward, through the seas' rhythmic flow.

One evening, amidst the shadowed waves, a wonder graced our sight,
A humpback whale, in majestic poise, beneath the moon's soft light.
It breached the ocean's surface, a spectacle profound and rare,
Uniting us in awe, in the cold Arctic air.

This moment, so serene and grand, moved many hearts aboard,
A bond with nature's marvel, in silent accord.
Yet, as we continued north, under the starlit dome,
The Northern Lights remained a dream, in the winter's frosted home.

Some nights, clouds like fortress walls, shielded the sky's grand stage,
Concealing the celestial dance, the Aurora's silent rage.
Yet, we stood on deck, hopeful, gazing at the night,
Longing for a glimpse of magic, in the polar light.

Other nights, the heavens cleared, revealing stars so bright,
But the elusive auroras hid, just beyond our sight.
Still, our spirits never waned, under the Arctic's dome,
In pursuit of the light's embrace, in the winter's monochrome.

Then, in a moment, time stood still, the sky began to sing,
Auroras unfurled in a silent waltz, an ethereal, vibrant ring.
Green and violet, they danced in grace, across the night's canvas,
A dream awakened in vibrant hues, a spectacle so wondrous.

Beneath this cosmic ballet, our journey found its heart,
In the silent spectacle of the lights, a masterpiece of art.
The Northern Lights, in their splendor, held us in their sway,
A climax of our Arctic quest, in the night's quiet ballet.

With memories of the whale's leap, and the lights' serene flow,
We journeyed homeward, hearts aglow, under the morning's bow.
In the dance of the Northern Lights and the whale's mighty leap,
We found a story of wonder, in the Arctic's vast, deep sleep.

Again, that’s not too bad is it? The humpback whale episode was seamlessly included.

That being said I’m not too happy about the last verse of the first strophe: “We sailed with hopes alight, towards the polar bars.” Are we talking about cocktail bars?

Or is it a misspelling of “polar bears”? Likely, it’s a reference to the fact that the northern lights kind of look like they are made of vertical bars of light, but I doubt most readers will get that.

Of course, I could just rewrite that verse myself. But I’m just going to ask the AI to do it.

My prompt: I am worried that “We sailed with hopes alight, towards the polar bars.” will create confusion. It could be perceived as a reference to establishments serving alcohol, or a misspelling of “polar bears”. Could you rewrite that whole strophe to avoid the problem? Remember to keep it in line with the style of the rest of the poem.

AI response: Certainly, I understand the concern. Here's a revised version of that stanza, maintaining the style and thematic essence of the poem:

In the heart of winter's clasp, we ventured through the night,
Bound for northern realms, where auroras paint the sky bright.
Through the Arctic's dark embrace, under a tapestry of stars,
Our dreams soared high, like distant comets, on this journey of ours.

This revised stanza continues to convey the sense of an adventurous journey towards the northern lights, emphasising the beauty of the starlit Arctic sky and the travellers' hopeful anticipation.

Problem solved! If, like me, you’re not too keen on the reference to “distant comets”, you can just keep the end of the verse and mash it up with the original one: “We sailed with hopes alight, on this journey of ours.”

Another fun thing to do with AI is to get it to match a particular style. Let’s try that!

Example 3: Writing an AI Poem About Norway in a Particular Style

For your AI poem about Norway, you may want to imitate the style of a famous poet. How well this will work depends largely on how well-known the poet is – the greater the AI’s exposure to your target style, the better.

For this example, I decided to play it safe, asking ChatGPT to imitate the style of one of the English language’s most well-known literary icons: William Shakespeare.

My prompt: Can you write a poem about Norway in the style of William Shakespeare? Include fjords, waterfalls, and small farms perched on steep mountainsides.

AI response:

In Norway's realm where fjords deep and grand,
Doth carve the earth with nature's skilled hand,
Where waterfalls in silver torrents flow,
And mountain's face with verdant beauty glow.

Upon steep slopes, small farms cling with grace,
A testament to man's hardy embrace.
Their fields, a patchwork quilt of emerald hue,
Beneath the sky's vast, ever-changing blue.

The roaring falls, like liquid silver veils,
Pour o'er the cliffs, a sight that never pales.
Their thunderous voice, in harmony so pure,
Sings a timeless song, enchanting and sure.

In hidden coves where silent waters lie,
The mirrored fjords reflect the endless sky.
Majestic peaks, in snow and sunlight dressed,
Stand guard o'er this land, by nature blessed.

Here, time moves not with haste, but gentle tread,
Amongst the pines where ancient whispers spread.
The mountains' call, a siren song so sweet,
In Norway's heart, where earth and heaven meet.

Oh, land of fjords, of water's endless dance,
Where nature holds one in a dreamlike trance.
Thy beauty, a canvas of divine art,
Doth capture forever the wandering heart.

Okay, so I’m not a Shakespeare scholar, but this looks pretty good to me. Aside from the obvious titbits of Tudor English (words like “Thy” and “Doth”), it seems like ChatGPT attempted to write the poem in iambic pentameter.

Essentially, this means that the verses are 10 syllables long. The rules of iambic pentameter are a bit more complicated than that, with each syllable alternating between stressed and non-stressed.

Here the AI seems to have failed a bit – but it’s still a valiant effort, don’t you think? For our last example, let’s try something completely different.

Example 4: Use a Picture as a Starting Point

In the fall of 2023, OpenAI made its GPT-4 multimodal, which is just a fancy way of saying that it can accept other things than text as input, and that it can also output other things than text.

Note that while all the examples given so far can be attempted with the free version of ChatGPT, you will need the paid version for this one.

For this prompt, I will be using a photo I took of the Geirangerfjord a couple of summers back. If you want to try with a photo of your own, simply click on the paper clip that’s on the left side of the prompt field, and select your image file.

My prompt (after attaching the image below): Can you take inspiration from the attached image to write a poem about Norway?

Image of Geirangerfjord in Norway. Photo: Daniel Albert.
Image of Geirangerfjord in Norway used as a prompt for the AI. Photo: Daniel Albert.

AI response:

In the arms of fjords, embraced by the sea,
Where mountains stand guard, rugged and free.
Mist whispers secrets from glaciers above,
In Norway’s heart, there’s an endless love.

The water, like silver, threads through the land,
Carved by time's unrelenting hand.
Viking echoes resonate, bold and grand,
In the quiet hum of the ancient strand.

Forests blanket hills in verdant hues,
Morning dew glistens, like olden muse.
The midnight sun dances, refusing to set,
In Norway’s realm, where sea and sky are met.

Ships glide on waters, deep and serene,
Mirroring skies, in majestic marine.
The air tastes of salt and pine’s green balm,
In the Norse land, there's an endless calm.

Each fjord, a poem; each peak, a song,
In Norway’s embrace, where legends belong.
Nature's canvas, vast, wild, and pure,
Here, the spirit of the North shall endure.

I think this is a very cool result. See how it included several elements from the image?

The mountains, the fjord, the forests, the “glaciers above” (technically those are just patches of snow but still), the ships; it’s all there!

Going back to our use case mentioned in the intro – making a photobook – this is a great way to create text that matches a specific image.

A Word of Warning

Language models like ChatGPT are very good at language, but they can be a bit fuzzy with facts. This will likely improve with time, but still, you should always take a language model’s output with a pinch of salt.

That being said, for examples like the ones we gave above, factual errors are a minor problem. No one expects a poem to be 100% correct about everything.

But do keep in mind that while ChatGPT sounds like this all-knowing super being, it’s still just computer code and it makes factual mistakes all the time. Still, it’s very good at what it’s trained for: language – so it would be a shame to dismiss it just because it sometimes doesn’t get its facts right.

Have you experimented with ChatGPT since it was made available to the public over a year ago? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

About Daniel Albert

Daniel was living a perfectly normal life as a journalist in Canada until he was swept off his feet by a Norwegian. He now lives in Trondheim where he still works in communications.

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1 thought on “Can AI Write Poetry About Norway? Let’s Find Out”

  1. Ick. How about writing your own poems that capture your own feelings and thoughts about your trip to Norway? That’s a real keepsake rather than some computer generated blather that’s too long and that no one will read. Just my very human thought.


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