by Adah Isaacs Menken
"Where'er there's a life to be kindled by love,
Wherever a soul to inspire,
Strike this key-note of God that trembles above
Night's silver-tongued voices of fire."
Genius is power.
The power that grasps in the universe, that dives out beyond space, and grapples with the starry worlds of heaven.
If genius achieves nothing, shows us no results, it is so much the less genius.
The man who is constantly fearing a lion in his path is a coward.
The man or woman whom excessive caution holds back from striking the anvil with earnest endeavor, is poor and cowardly of purpose.
The required step must be taken to reach the goal, though a precipice be the result.
Work must be done, and the result left to God.
The soul that is in earnest, will not stop to count the cost.
Circumstances cannot control genius: it will nestle with them: its power will bend and break them to its path.
This very audacity is divine.
Jesus of Nazareth did not ask the consent of the high priests in the temple when he drove out the "money-changers;" but, impelled by inspiration, he knotted the cords and drove them hence.
Genius will find room for itself, or it is none.
Men and women, in all grades of life, do their utmost.
If they do little, it is because they have no capacity to do more.
I hear people speak of "unfortunate genius," of "poets who never penned their inspirations;" that "Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest;" of "unappreciated talent," and "malignant stars," and other contradictory things.
It is all nonsense.
Where power exists, it cannot be suppressed any more than the earthquake can be smothered.
As well attempt to seal up the crater of Vesuvius as to hide God's given power of the soul.
"You may as well forbid the mountain pines To wag their high tops, and to make no noise When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven," as to hush the voice of genius.
There is no such thing as unfortunate genius.
If a man or woman is fit for work, God appoints the field.
He does more; He points to the earth with her mountains, oceans, and cataracts, and says to man, " Be great!"
He points to the eternal dome of heaven and its blazing worlds, and says: "Bound out thy life with beauty."
He points to the myriads of down-trodden, suffering men and women, and says: "Work with me for the redemption of these, my children."
He lures, and incites, and thrusts greatness upon men, and they will not take the gift.
Genius, on the contrary, loves toil, impediment, and poverty; for from these it gains its strength, throws off the shadows, and lifts its proud head to immortality.
Neglect is but the flat to an undying future.
To be popular is to be endorsed in the To-day and forgotten in the To-morrow.
It is the mess of pottage that alienates the birth-right.
Genius that succumbs to misfortune, that allows itself to be blotted by the slime of slander-and other serpents that infest society-is so much the less genius.
The weak man or woman who stoops to whine over neglect, and poverty, and the snarls of the world, gives the sign of his or her own littleness.
Genius is power.
The eternal power that can silence worlds with its voice, and battle to the death ten thousand arméd Hercules.
Then make way for this God-crowned Spirit of Night, that was born in that Continuing City, but lives in lowly and down-trodden souls!
Fling out the banner!
Its broad folds of sunshine will wave over turret and dome, and over the thunder of oceans on to eternity.
"Fling it out, fling it out o'er the din of the world!
Make way for this banner of flame,
That streams from the mast-head of ages unfurled,
And inscribed by the deathless in name.
And thus through the years of eternity's flight,
This insignia of soul shall prevail,
The centre of glory, the focus of light;
O Genius! proud Genius, all hail!"
Last updated July 05, 2015