Google Translate Poems

Everyone suffers from writer’s block at some point, and there are a billion solutions for getting past it. But when someone told me that she runs her poems through Google translate when she gets stuck, I had to try it.

Here’s my original poem:

Halfway through measure seventy-three,
the notes leapt off the pages, bar lines snaking
like ivy around violinists’ arms, sharps chase

woodwinds out of the studio, puncture cellos,
flats pooling in the bells of trumpets,
the theme lost somewhere in the low brass

stranding the movie’s confused protagonist,
still at home in his pajamas, in an impromptu caesura,
watching the rain seep through the sky.

I used Google translate to send it through several languages (English, Arabic, Russian, French, English) and got this:

Halfway measuring mid-seventies
Skipped pages of notes and lines stretching bar
Like ivy around the violin and sharp weapons hunt

Winds workshop cello hole
Apartments to bells pipes
Multi lost somewhere in the low copper

Twist the film’s hero and confused,
However, at home in your pajamas, in an impromptu break
Show rain seeps into the sky.

I was surprised that I actually liked the Google translate ending better. I would never have thought to have rain seep “into” the sky.

Whether you are currently writing poems or you just want to have fun seeing what Shel Silverstein would look like jumbled up, I would encourage you to try this for yourself. You never know what new ways of saying things you can discover.

Want to learn more about Google and poems?


7 thoughts on “Google Translate Poems

  1. Both poems sounded really great, but you’re right; the translated one has a sort of mysterious, vague quality about it that makes it sound like a professional poet (whatever THAT is) wrote it. It’s a neat idea. The rain into the sky thing really highlights how languages work differently, plus not only does it sound cool, but it shows how poet simple inversion is.

  2. Oh my word, this is brilliant. I love this idea. When I’m writing I almost always have open on another tab. But I will definitely be trying this for my poetry as well thinking of new words/phrasing for my papers.

  3. This is great! I definitely enjoyed both poems, but this adds a new dimension without having to strain and stress over which synonyms to use. It is potentially hilarious–I’ve seen what Google Translate does with song lyrics–but definitely a good use of resources.

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