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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • (3/29/2017 9:32:00 AM)


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

  • (3/29/2017 9:31:00 AM)


    This poem is still relevant to certain extent nowadays also and it is interesting. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Amrod (3/29/2017 7:14:00 AM)


    I must say there is a certain dry sarcasm that I feel shows little true sympathy for a probable genius. Nevertheless there is the true genius that never adheres to norms and he wrapped up in his own creation scoffing the banalties of this Earth and its regimentation and marshall capitalism.God bless them all including the illustrious Mark Twain. (Report) Reply

  • Lantz Pierre (3/29/2017 6:12:00 AM)


    One of the best things about Samuel Clemens was how wonderfully snarky he was in laying low the self-proclaimed geniuses in this world. Hilarious how people of very little perspicuity raise their hand bravely to say they are the butt of his joke. (Report) Reply

  • (3/29/2017 6:11:00 AM)


    A great soul searching write and pinpointing the traits found in abundance in geniuses. (Report) Reply

  • Alexander Julian (3/29/2017 4:52:00 AM)


    I'm a genius because I understand this poem and don't pretend to be confused, since it was a work by a genius. I never knew Mark Twain was a poet! My theory on genius is that if you can't tell where you are but have vigor, truth, and despair, then you're a genius because, as Mark Twain put it, If he... persists in going up some infamous back alley dying in rags and dirt, then he is a genius. Still, I can't know if Mark Twain would've referred to a lady being a genius also. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (3/29/2017 2:38:00 AM)


    as the saying goes it takes one to know one? .....pure genius writing. (Report) Reply

  • Upendra Majhi (3/29/2017 1:36:00 AM)


    To deftly throw the incoherent ravings of insanity into verse.Mr Twain, the genius says.
    Even Shiraz(14th century poet of Iran) said their clan go for insane things, At logic and sanity they mock.
    (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/29/2017 1:03:00 AM)


    Sound advice! Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/29/2017 1:03:00 AM)


    Sound advice! Thanks for (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (3/29/2017 1:02:00 AM)


    Tongue in cheek poem. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (3/29/2017 12:49:00 AM)


    Astonishing facility.... thanks for posting... (Report) Reply

  • (12/28/2015 1:30:00 PM)


    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. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poem Edited: Wednesday, November 30, 2011


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