The blind men 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 the Mind.

The first approached the elephant
And happening to fall,
Againts his strong and sturdy side
At once began tobrawl;
‘It’s very like a wall!’

The second, feelin of the tusk,
Cried ‘Ho! What we have 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
Thus boldly op and spake:
‘I see’, quoth he, ‘The elephant
is very like a snake!’

The fourth reached out aneager hand
And felt around the knee
‘What 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 resembled 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’, quoth he,’the elephant
is very like a rope’

And so these man of Indostan
Disputed loud and long
Each of his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong
Though each was partly in the right
An all were in the wrong!


So oft in idealogic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean
And prate about an elephant
Not one of them has seen

John Godfrey Saxe (1816- 1887)