THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT

JOHN GODFREY SAXE

 

 

 

 

 

1.     All         It was six men of Hindustan,

2.                  To learning much inclined,

3.                  Who went to see the elephant

4.                  (Though all of them were blind)

5.                  That each by observation

6.                  Might satisfy his mind.

 

7.     Reader 1     The First approached the elephant,

8.                  And, happening to fall

9.                  Against his broad and sturdy side,

10.                             At once began to bawl:

11.                All         "God bless me! but the elephant

12.                             Is nothing but a wall!"

 

13.                Reader 2     The Second, feeling of the tusk,

14.                             Cried: "Ho! what have we here,

15.                             So very round and smooth and sharp?

16.                             To me 'tis mighty clear

17.                All         This wonder of an elephant

18.                             Is very like a spear!"

 

19.                Reader 3     The Third approached the animal,

20.                             And, happening to take

21.                             The squirming trunk within his hands,

22.                             Thus boldly up and spake:

23.                All         "I see," quoth he, "the elephant

24.                             Is very like a snake!"

 

25.                Reader 4     The Fourth reached out his eager hand

26.                             And felt about the knee.

27.                             "What most this wondrous beast is like

28.                             Is mighty plain," quoth he.

29.                All          "'Tis clear enough the elephant

30.                             Is very like a tree."

 

31.                Reader 5     The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

32.                             Said: "E'en the blindest man

33.                             Can tell what this resembles most.

34.                             Deny the fact who can,

35.                All         This marvel of an elephant

36.                             Is very like a fan!"

 

37.                Reader 6     The Sixth no sooner had begun

38.                             About the beast to grope

39.                             Than, seizing on the swinging tail

40.                             That fell within his scope,

41.                All          "I see," quoth he, "the elephant

42.                             Is very like a rope!"

 

43.                Reader 7     And so these men of Hindustan

44.                             Disputed loud and long,

45.                             Each in his own opinion

46.                             Exceeding stiff and strong,

47.                All         Though each was partly in the right

48.                             And all were in the wrong!

 

49.                Reader 8     So, oft in theologic wars

50.                             The disputants, I ween,

51.                             Rail on in utter ignorance

52.                             Of what each other mean

53.                All         And prate about an elephant

54.                             Not one of them has seen!

 

 

Glossary:

E’en - even

Hindustan – the Hindu areas of India

Prate - babble

Spake - spoke

Theologic – studies about God

Ween – suppose