Treasure Island

Charles Bukowski

(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994 / Andernach)

The Genius Of The Crowd


there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art


Submitted by Holt

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Read poems about / on: solitude, tiger, peace, murder, hate, poverty, believe, war, woman, god, alone, love, world, women

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  • Jonathan Brown (7/1/2013 3:02:00 PM)

    I personally feel as though this poem was written not only as a sad testimony of the time in which it was written, but also as a warning of what such thinking will lead to. Ultimately, when we live in a society in which the majority are either ignorant of or actively trying to suppress such things as art, beauty, love, truth, and so on, we do end up with these violent clashes (sometimes, metaphorically as in the clashing of two generations, other times, not so peacefully (i.e. protests turning into violent riots.)

    Furthermore, I would like to address Mr. Mitchenko's critique.
    Personally, I feel the Bukowski left the poem purposefully vague so that its impact could easily be felt for years to come. Had he (Bukowski) specified what the issues were that caused him to feel this way - in detail, no less, the poem would have lost its timeless luster and effect. Furthermore, the poem you describe that you wish Bukowski had written, to me, would make a fine essay for that time period, but would such a direct, detailed criticism (sans the unfocused whimsy that allows it to be relevant even today) truly be comprable to the artfully grim piece before us? (Report) Reply

  • Sybille Nord (6/16/2013 10:31:00 AM)

    this poem is like a hit in the face
    it's beautiful and powerful and so very true
    when you're surrounded by people who don't absolutely understand you and don't even want to understand you, trying to make your life miserable in order to not feel miserable themselves, when you have to permanently struggle against narrow-mindedness and bigotry, you know exactly what cb talks about
    thank you, Bukowski, for telling this sad truth in heart-felt poetic words
    let's beware the average man (Report) Reply

  • Yacov Mitchenko (1/9/2013 4:26:00 AM)

    It's irrelevant whether I dislike a comment or not. Rather than simply clicking the I like or I dislike button, I need to produce an intelligent, well-informed argument as to why I agree or disagree with a comment, assuming I'm a serious reader concerned about the state of poetry, and how it can be improved. If I click on the button and nothing more, I immediately disqualify myself, because of the lack of seriousness and thoughtfulness I show. (Report) Reply

  • Yacov Mitchenko (8/24/2011 12:17:00 AM)

    The poem is fairly good, but not nearly as good as many suppose. I do see the truth in some statements, but they're far too general. And the danger with generalizations is that they tend to be black-or-white oversimplifications; they miss out on the nuances and ambiguities in a situation. It would have been better had Bukowski restricted himself to 2 or 3 of the points made in the poem, and then actually SHOWED his points playing themselves out in a specific context or concrete setting. While general statements can please or provoke readers, they are nonetheless to be used sparingly and only once a specific situation has been presented. Had Bukowski adopted the above approach, his poem would perhaps have been more powerful. As it stands, it doesn't merit higher than a 6.5. (Report) Reply

  • Adi Cox (8/29/2009 2:22:00 PM)

    Rarely some poems are so good that when I read them they feel like a smack in the face of poignant reality. This is one of those rare gems for me. A powerful and true message. (Report) Reply

  • Marina Grozdanova (9/16/2006 6:46:00 AM)

    If u read this&try to understand it through Bukowski's eyes, then brake it through your mind, damn, you will be able to see in everybody's heads.. (Report) Reply

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