Poem Review: The Genius of the Crowd: a selection from The Roominghouse Madrigals by Charles Bukowski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of Bukowski’s longest works, one in which he steps out of the genre and becomes, for a brief moment, a metaphysical lyricist.
The poem itself is all about the false pretenses that life accords us and serves as a caution to the reader to stay away from those individuals who hide their internal thoughts which are always much more contradictory to what they propose to preach.
Bukowski’s use of metaphor and personifications are likewise employed in simple and unambiguous ways, with words such as “the average man” and “the average woman” that, along with several other key phrases, shape the meaning and interpretation of the poem rather acutely. Which in turn, becomes the true genius of the poem. Making this particular composition, his lasting counsel to the world. 

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 love 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. 


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