The Blind Men and The Elephant

Copy of BLIND MEN ELEPHANTThe Blind Men and the Elephant  

John Godfrey Saxe   1816~1887

From a legend originating 202 BC ~ Han Dynastry ~ China

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.
BLIND MEN ELEPHANTThe First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like 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!”
Copy (2) of BLIND MEN ELEPHANTThe Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“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!”
Copy (3) of BLIND MEN ELEPHANTThe Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”
Copy of Copy of BLIND MEN ELEPHANTAnd 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,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Copy of BLIND MEN ELEPHANTOriginal Pen & Ink Drawing ‘The Blind Men and The Elephant’ by Barbara Sparhawk©


4 thoughts on “The Blind Men and The Elephant

    • Thank you! I have more somewhere including the elephant, still looking. I still have the collected “Story Poems” by Louis Untermeyer and this was in it, which I think I first read, loved, and memorized at 12ish.
      It never fails to fit with something the world is up to.

    • Thank you Gunta, planned to include more I’d done and can’t find now. I did my first illustrations of this when I was a kid, then more through the years, and love the poem. My favorite book from c12 years old is still Story Poems, collected by Louis Untermeyer. Such a treasure.

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