Genius Poem by Mark Twain


Rating: 4.1

Genius, like gold and precious stones,
is chiefly prized because of its rarity.

Geniuses are people who dash of weird, wild,
incomprehensible poems with astonishing facility,
and get booming drunk and sleep in the gutter.

Genius elevates its possessor to ineffable spheres
far above the vulgar world and fills his soul
with regal contempt for the gross and sordid things of earth.

It is probably on account of this
that people who have genius
do not pay their board, as a general thing.

Geniuses are very singular.

If you see a young man who has frowsy hair
and distraught look, and affects eccentricity in dress,
you may set him down for a genius.

If he sings about the degeneracy of a world
which courts vulgar opulence
and neglects brains,
he is undoubtedly a genius.

If he is too proud to accept assistance,
and spurns it with a lordly air
at the very same time
that he knows he can't make a living to save his life,
he is most certainly a genius.

If he hangs on and sticks to poetry,
notwithstanding sawing wood comes handier to him,
he is a true genius.

If he throws away every opportunity in life
and crushes the affection and the patience of his friends
and then protests in sickly rhymes of his hard lot,
and finally persists,
in spite of the sound advice of persons who have got sense
but not any genius,
persists in going up some infamous back alley
dying in rags and dirt,
he is beyond all question a genius.

But above all things,
to deftly throw the incoherent ravings of insanity into verse
and then rush off and get booming drunk,
is the surest of all the different signs
of genius.

John Petree 28 December 2015

Wow, I feel like I truly connect with this poem; as if everything he said just made so much sense to me. Throughout history, the best poem's have come from people who may seem a bit odd. But come on, aren't all of us artists people who have had struggle, so may end up seeming a bit messed up. I mean, Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven and Van Gogh cut off his ear, and both are geniuses, I think that says a lot.

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Amar Agarwala 29 March 2017

A beautiful poetry, incredibly true verses, stark reality painted in front of the eyes... compelling one to think about life and its wayward geniuses. Without doubt the writer and poet - Mark Twain was one! Where have such characters gone? The world today seems bereft of such treasured figures... for men have little thought and compassion for others... something geniuses were adept at. Geniuses were essentially selfless people... and could be termed as - Heaven's emissaries on earth, who come down to make life easier and better for mankind.

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Barry Middleton 29 March 2017

If Mark Twain was still alive, I would advise him to revise the first verse. The type of genius he describes is not the least bit rare. LOL

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Anna Lin 29 March 2018

Is it really his writing, or something edited from his prose work? can’t help the question...

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pumpkin dude 12 March 2021


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cool 31 March 2021


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Sandra Feldman 29 March 2020

Love It! Will read it every day and thank our lucky stars for it!

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Sandra Feldman 29 March 2020

1 After reading, never wanting to write poetry. 2 Writing poetry but not agreeing with the negative aspect of being a genius. 3 Being utterly astonished and agreeing that being a poet is the most extraordinarily, exciting experience a human being can have regardless of the possible destructive aspects. This is just an opinion, up to the reader to agree or disagree A poem of very long thought & reach! Also a passionate side of Mark Twain to discover.

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Douglas Scotney 29 March 2020

sounds like a genius has got no sense

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paul amrod 29 March 2020

I always thought he was talking about my favorite of another sort. Mr: Edgar Allan Poe!

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Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Florida, Missouri
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