John Godfrey Saxe

John Godfrey Saxe Poems

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),

A Tale of the Talmud

When Solomon was reigning in his glory,
Unto his throne the Queen of Sheba came,

Give me kisses! Do not stay,
Counting in that careful way.
All the coins your lips can print
Never will exhaust the mint.

Dum tacent clamant

INGLORIOUS friend! most confident I am
Thy life is one of very little ease;

COME, listen all unto my song;
It is no silly fable;
'T is all about the mighty cord

Do I love thee? Ask the bee
If she loves the flowery lea,
Where the honeysuckle blows
And the fragrant clover grows.

I know a girl with teeth of pearl,
And shoulders white as snow;
She lives, - ah well,
I must not tell, -

Kiss me softly and speak to me low;
Malice has ever a vigilant ear;
What if Malice were lurking near?
Kiss me, dear!

I know, Justine, you speak me fair
As often as we meet;
And 'tis a luxury, I swear,
To hear a voice so sweet;

A maiden, with a garland on her head,
Sat in her bower between two lovers: one
Wore such a wreath as hers; the other none.

That blessings lost, though hard to bear,
Are light when weighed with carking care, -
Some ill whose ever-goading spite

That I adore thee, my most gracious queen,
More in my spirit than my body's sense
Of thine, were such incredible pretence

'GOD bless the man who first invented sleep!'
So Sancho Panza said, and so say I:
And bless him, also, that he didn't keep

SINGING through the forests,
Rattling over ridges,
Shooting under arches,

NAY, weep not, dearest, though the child be dead;
He lives again in Heaven's unclouded life,
With other angels that have early fled

Love and Lucre met one day,
In chill November weather,
And so, to wile the time away,
They held discourse together.

Every coin of earthly treasure
We have lavished, upon earth,
For our simple worldly pleasure,

My days pass pleasantly away;
My nights are blest with sweetest sleep;
I feel no symptoms of decay;

'Curse on all curs!' I heard a cynic cry;
A wider malediction than he thought-
For what's a cynic?- Had he cast his eye

Ye friends of good cheer, I pray you give ear;
I sing of old Noah who planted the vine;
But first, if you please, our thirst to appease,
Let's drink to his health in a bumper of wine!

John Godfrey Saxe Biography

John Godfrey Saxe (June 2, 1816 – March 31, 1887) was an American poet perhaps best known for his re-telling of the Indian parable "The Blindmen and the Elephant", which introduced the story to a Western audience Saxe was born in Highgate, Vermont at Saxe's Mills, erected by his settler grandfather, John Saxe (Johannes Sachse) a German immigrant and Loyalist to the Crown. Saxe was the son of Peter Saxe, miller, judge and periodic member of the Vermont Assembly, and the Elizabeth Jewett of Weybridge, Vermont. Raised in a strict Methodist home, Saxe was first sent to Weselyan which he left after a year, and then to Middlebury, from which he graduated in 1839. In 1841 he married Sophia Newell Sollace, a sister of a Middlebury classmate, was admitted to the Vermont bar in 1843 and tried to run a business with his dutiful and pious older brother, Charles Jewett Saxe. The words "dutiful" and "pious" never applied to the aspiring satirist. Bored by his legal work, Saxe began publishing poems for The Knickerbocker, of which "The Rhyme of the Rail" is his most famous early work. He soon caught the attention of the prominent Boston publishing house, Ticknor and Fields. Though he received no royalties for his first volume, it ran to ten reprintings and eventually outsold works by Hawthorne and Tennyson. Mr. Saxe became a sought after speaker, toured frequently and stayed prolific throughout the 1850s. In 1859 and in 1860 he ran for Governor of Vermont and was beaten both times. As a northern Democrat, he advocated a non-interference policy on slavery and supported Illinois Senator Douglas's policy of "popular sovereignty", a position which rendered the poet extremely unpopular in Republican Vermont. After his second, and even more punishing electoral defeat, Mr. Saxe left his home state in 1860 for neighboring Albany, New York. Mr. Saxe spent his summers in Saratoga, contributed articles for the Albany Evening Journal and Albany Morning Argus, and published poems in Harpers, The Atlantic, and the Knickerbocker and remained popular on the lecture circuit. "The Proud Miss McBride" and "Song of Saratoga" were some of famous works in this period. However, his attempts to re-enter politics remained unsuccessful. The 1870s, while living in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, began a series of woes for the poet. His youngest daughter died of tuberculosis. In 1875 he suffered head injuries in a rail accident near Wheeling (WVA), from which he never fully recovered, and then over the next several years his two oldest daughters, his eldest son, and daughter-in-law also died of tuberculosis. In 1879 his wife, under the strain of so many tragedies, burst a blood vessel in her brain and collapsed and died. Including a young son lost in the 1840s, Mr. Saxe had buried five of his six children as well as his wife. Mr. Saxe sank deep into depression and was moved back to Albany to live with his last surviving child, Charles. His decline from the rollicking poet to grieving recluse earned the sympathy of the people of Albany and when he died in 1887, the New York Assembly ordered his likeness to be chiseled into the "poet's corner" of the Great Western Staircase in the New York State Capitol. His best remembered poem "The Blind Men and the Elephant", was not his most famous in his day. And though a satirist, his poems written during more somber periods remain some of his most beautiful and enduring, including "Little Jerry the Miller" about his father's mill assistant. Few of the satirical works which had made him famous are read today. The poet's orphaned grandson, John Godfrey Saxe II, became a New York State senator, President of the New York Bar, and counsel of Columbia University. According to Fred Shapiro, author of the Yale Book of Quotations, the Daily Cleveland Herald in its issue of Mar. 29, 1869, quotes Saxe as saying “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.)

The Best Poem Of John Godfrey Saxe

The Blind Man And The Elephant

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
'God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!'

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: 'Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!'

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, 'I see,' quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!'

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
'What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,' quoth he;
'Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.'

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; 'E'en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!'

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
'I see,' quothe he, 'the elephant is very like a rope!'

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!

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