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Quotations about Genius

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

Men of genius are meteors destined to burn themselves out in lighting up their age. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

Wisdom is of God... Genius is the decay of Wisdom. To Shakespeare, Wisdom was offered; but he did not accept it, and so he died away into Genius. ~Jones Very, paraphrase from Emerson's journal, 1838

The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius. Talent is a docile creature, patient of the bit and the whip. But genius is always impatient of its harness; its wild blood makes it hard to train. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes [a little altered –tg]

The idol of the boy had been Poe and Keats, Byron, Dowson, Chatterton—all the gifted miserable and reckless men who had burned themselves out in tragic brilliance early and with finality. Not for him the normal happy genius living to a ripe old age (genius indeed! How could a genius be happy, normal—above all, long-lived?), acclaimed by all (or acclaimed in his lifetime?), enjoying honour, love, obedience... ~Charles R. Jackson, The Lost Weekend, 1944

Genius is not purity; genius is not piety; yet it partakes of the nature of both. It is contradistinguished from every thing which is earthly, sensual, material. It is the vigour of the soul; the aspirations of a spirit struggling with its fetters, and continually peeping beyond its prison walls of flesh and blood. ~Anonymous, Aphorisms; or, A Glance at Human Nature, in Original Maxims, 1820

A genius is one who shoots at something no one else can see — and hits it. ~Author Unknown

Were a person to collect all the happy thoughts he had ever had in his life, the result would be a valuable book. At least once a year everyone is a genius. It is only that the actual man of genius so-called has his good ideas at shorter intervals. We see, then, how much depends on making a note of everything. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908

Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one. ~E.B. White

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. ~John F. Kennedy, in an address to Nobel Prize winners

Every true genius is bound to be naive. ~J.C.F. von Schiller

Genius, by its very intensity, decrees a special path of fire for its vivid power. ~Phillips Brooks

I have known no man of genius who had not to pay, in some affliction or defect, either physical or spiritual, for what the gods had given him. ~Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson, 1911

I am convinced all of humanity is born with more gifts than we know. Most are born geniuses and just get de-geniused rapidly. ~Buckminster Fuller

Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered — either by themselves or by others. ~Mark Twain

Talent is that which is in a man's power; genius is that in whose power a man is. ~James Russell Lowell, Literary Essays

The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius. ~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Every man of genius is considerably helped by being dead. ~Robert S. Lynd

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"

Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius. ~George Bernard Shaw

Genius is a plodding intellect, incapable of dreaming up the obstacles that stop the rest of us. ~Robert Brault,

Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale, 1849

Every great genius has an admixture of madness. ~Aristotle

This is the nature of genius, to be able to grasp the knowable even when no one else recognizes that it is present. ~Deepak Chopra

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~Jonathan Swift

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. ~E.F. Schumacher

Men of genius are rarely much annoyed by the company of vulgar people. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk

Genius ain't anything more than elegant common sense. ~Josh Billings

Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience. ~George-Louis de Buffon

People ask how I think up my thoughts. Mostly I think them up while reading Paul Simon's lyrics. ~Robert Brault,

I can't tell you if genius is hereditary, because heaven has granted me no offspring. ~James McNeill Whistler

A harmless hilarity and a buoyant cheerfulness are not infrequent concomitants of genius; and we are never more deceived than when we mistake gravity for greatness, solemnity for science, and pomposity for erudition. ~Charles Caleb Colton

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