Saturday 3 March 2012

Poetry Saturday . . . The Blind Men and The Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the elephant
(Though each 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,
Thus boldy up and spake:
"I see," quote he, "The elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
"What most this wonderous 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," quoth 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,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an elephant
Not one of them has seen!
~John Godfrey Saxe

I can remember having to learn about this poem in Grade five at school many, many moons ago! I am not sure, but I think we had to memorize it . . . we had to memorize lots of poems!

John Godfrey Saxe was an American writer from the Victorian age. This poem is probably one of the most remembered ones of his works to day. 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.

This poem reminds me that even the most educated of people can come to believe in things that are not true . . . by only believing the things that they can see or touch, without investigating the whole.

Just my opinion of course.

Baking in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Peanut Butter Blondies!

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