Sonnets – Illustrated with AI (MidJourney)

Since 2022 I have been writing sonnets. A total of 45 to date. I’ve been experimenting a little bit with using the sonnets, or phrases from the sonnets, as prompts for AI art program, MidJourney.

I’ve taken the results from 4 of these experiments and overlaid the entire sonnet. I’m not completely satisfied with this. For me, so far, making stuff with MidJourney (of the various LLM image generators MJ is the only one I’ve worked with, but I have experimented pretty extensively), is semi-random. I toss in phrases and other parameters, and the bot spits out its many different interpretations. I don’t think it has much capacity for metaphor, simile, or narrative. I guess what I am really experimenting with is how to test what capacity it has for these qualities of poetic language.

I’d like these experiments in illustrating poetry with AI generative art, to lead to a curated use of poetic language in an interactive and immersive theatrical context where the audience can explore the poetic vision and help evolve it through their participation. I’m not being very specific here, but I guess you (or I) could enter the preceding sentence into ChatGPT and ask it to expand on the topic.


Behold the elephant bearing many dreams!
He farts profoundly and expands very greatly
Consciousness that floats like incense streams!
Like strings of pearls! Like jewels beheld innately!
Like harem girls spinning tales spoken ornately
Of a certain Sultan they served exclusively,
Who, arriving a little drunk, and only very lately,
Ad-libs an odd soliloquy spoken effusively,
“Death is but a mirage!” he states conclusively.
Tottering, his ivory tower trembles and it cracks
And across shimm’ring sands he stumbles elusively –
Like a drunken elephant covering up his tracks.
The fleeting visions of distant lands so strange to remember,
Like warming your hands by the glow of an incense ember.


Jealous wind sweeping away grieving sand
Revealing her sleight of a severed hand
Clasping the eyeball of his mountain mortal
Where shadow castles loom ungrateful grand.
Clown bordello cum unanimous chortle
Of troglodytes ‘pon the spacetime portal
Encucumbered by mystic contraband
Shameless gender-bender gerrymand.
Gothchick debauchka stylishly putrid –
Creature teacher’s pet beyond reprimand.
Dimestore detective lust pinup lurid
Half-eaten sandwitch word salad stupid.
As for his victims she left them nameless,
For her achievements he was but blameless.


Die countless deaths – love’s not mummified!
On the contrary, love is glorified
To persist beyond all earthly bounds.
Love is the essence of life electrified!
Music of the spheres, all celestial sounds,
Hooting of night owls, baying of sad hounds,
All sing the song of death inevitable –
And dance the mortal dance incredible!
Splendor that subverts the rule of reason –
Vainglorious love inestimable!
Every flower has its own season,
And each lover commits some small treason
To just live or justly die for something –
Loving someone, somewhere, somehow, some dumb thing.


Count each grain of sand, the joys of springtide!
Inner conflicts wrestle as we sit ringside
Reminiscing, wagering, who did stand
And who was blinded and who fell tongue-tied.
Prophets and exiles of that promised land
Where milk, honey –  even heroin – grew bland.
Like ghosts smoking cigars of the good life –
Gimcrack pulp fiction superpower strife –
We wander and wonder and mostly muddle,
Mix things up, mistake your best friend’s wife
For a beluga, or platypus to cuddle.
With strange bedfellows we conspire and huddle
To gravely confound the New World Order
And hail Jupiter from Ganymede’s border.