John Godfrey Saxe

(1816-1887 / the United States)

The Blind Man And The Elephant - Poem by John Godfrey Saxe

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!

Comments about The Blind Man And The Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe

  • Terry Craddock (11/18/2015 1:23:00 AM)

    First Encounter With Elephants For Blind Eyes

    the moral of the famous fable right
    tale 'the blind man and the elephant'
    is clear to see when eyes contrast
    other senses with perception sight...

    the eye sees knows with clarity
    all objects identified in memory
    but blind both orbs of prime identity
    clarification and enter strange mystery...

    will touch be first accurate measure yardstick?
    will ears hear identify absolutely no sound quick?
    what strange tales will smell to new fragrance tell?
    what blind taste tests would rapidly condemn to hell?

    Clever humorous and entertaining bold
    lies a wonderful poem for young and old
    especially children; this famous tale has
    more versions than cats have nine lives...

    but the moral should be when blind
    examine the entire animal for detail and
    consider all the facts figure all angles
    knowing no memory aids not blind eyes...

    Copyright © Terence George Craddock
    Inspired by the poem 'The Blind Man And The Elephant' by John Godfrey Saxe.
    (Report) Reply

    5 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Terry Craddock (9/20/2015 4:39:00 PM)

    Clever humorous and entertaining, a wonderful poem for young and old, especially children; this famous tale has more versions than cats have lives, but the moral should be when blind examine the entire animal for detail and consider all the facts. (Report) Reply

  • James Mclain Is It Poetry (9/20/2015 1:28:00 PM)

    The reading of this text
    is clear
    for all to see
    Two covers have a book
    opinions are thus worthless
    if there not within your reach.. iip
    (Report) Reply

  • Rajnish Manga (9/20/2015 12:27:00 PM)

    This story is part of the Indian folklore and is enjoyed by all- young or old. The poetic representation has an added flavour. Unless we adopt a holistic approach, we cannot understand any concept or a theory or a reality. Great poem. (Report) Reply

  • Seema Jayaraman (9/20/2015 12:21:00 PM)

    Wow so beautifully and artistically crafted...the act of observation can be penned with so many words and in so many ways...well thought out and laid out (Report) Reply

  • Kim Barney (9/20/2015 11:52:00 AM)

    This is a great poem that shows how people can interpret things in different ways when each of them has only part of the truth. I first read it many years ago and it has always been one of my favorites.
    However, the title is wrong. It should be 'The blind MEN and the elephant'.
    (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (9/20/2015 11:25:00 AM)

    Enjoyed this poetic version of famous Indian lore used about inability of any spiritual thought or claims of knowing the Supreme truth. What we all see or know is partial truth never the whole truth. (Report) Reply

  • (9/20/2015 1:47:00 AM)

    Marvelously rhymed. Beautiful poem throwing light on limitations in a symbolic way. I enjoyed reading it. (Report) Reply

  • Mary Pagdati (9/20/2015 12:51:00 AM)

    A lovely poem! ! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 16, 2010

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