Mark Twain

(November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910 / Florida, Missouri)

Genius - Poem by Mark Twain

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.

Comments about Genius by Mark Twain

  • Petals Azureblue (7/7/2018 9:32:00 AM)

    Beyond genius....👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍 (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (5/27/2018 9:28:00 PM)

    Nice and good poem (Report) Reply

  • (5/22/2018 11:57:00 AM)

    Hi I wrote this and thanks for the compliments yyyyyyyyy (Report) Reply

  • (5/22/2018 11:57:00 AM)

    Hi I wrote this and thanks for the compliments (Report) Reply

  • Nudershada Cabanes (3/29/2018 10:20:00 PM)

    Mark Twain was a true genius of literature. (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (3/29/2018 7:49:00 PM)

    Hahaha it makes me feel real good! Such good humor and satire! (Report) Reply

  • (3/29/2018 3:45:00 PM)

    The last stanza is the real marker along the path, showing the way... (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (3/29/2018 2:57:00 PM)

    I have read the biting humor, the gentle humor, the rollicking humor, and the snarky humor in Mark Twain's short stories and his novels, now I get to read it in poetry. He is an American literary jewel- I wouldn't dare say an American literary genius after reading his expose of the species! (Report) Reply

  • (3/29/2018 2:47:00 PM)

    A satire. These sort of geniuses irked Mark Twain. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/29/2018 2:32:00 PM)

    Of all the different signs! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • (3/29/2018 12:49:00 PM)

    meme.............................................. (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (3/29/2018 8:31:00 AM)

    First, it looks like it should read dash off, instead of dash of, in the first line of the second stanza. Then, Twain paints a word picture of a type similar to a few I’ve met and reminds me of a one or two characters in Flannery O’Connor stories. Coming from Twain, who looms large in American literature, one would be wise to heed the implied criticism in his witticisms. -GK (Report) Reply

    (3/29/2018 3:42:00 PM)

    True Glen; very well put. This does have the feel of one of Flannery O'Connors great short stories.

  • Ramesh T A (3/29/2018 6:12:00 AM)

    The nature and attire of a genius is wonderfully depicted in this poem by Mark Twain! (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (3/29/2018 6:09:00 AM)

    Genius, like gold and precious stones,
    is chiefly prized because of its rarity........yes it is. With a nice theme Mark Twin has posted this poem startlingly.
    (Report) Reply

  • Amar Agarwala (3/29/2017 8:19:00 PM)

    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. (Report) Reply

  • Rebecca Lyle (3/29/2017 7:09:00 PM)

    always loved this poem, it is genius, as was Mark Twain. (Report) Reply

  • Oilibheir Álain Christie (3/29/2017 7:02:00 PM)

    When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.
    Jonathan Swift
    (Report) Reply

  • Geeta Radhakrishna Menon (3/29/2017 12:54:00 PM)

    Geniuses are rare like gold and precious stones, yet,
    odd, awkward, and socially aloof.
    Mark Twain describes a genius in his inimitable style.
    An outstanding poem!
    (Report) Reply

  • Barry Middleton (3/29/2017 10:23:00 AM)

    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 (Report) Reply

    (3/29/2018 1:06:00 AM)

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

  • (3/29/2017 9:32:00 AM)

    This poem is still relevant to certain extent. (Report) Reply

Read all 33 comments »

# 453 poem on top 500 Poems

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poem Edited: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]