Look for the deeper meaning to this poem. The author is anonymous. Enjoy!


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 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!"

The 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 an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What this most wondrous beast is like
Is might plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

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!

The poem above was written by American poet John Godfrey Saxe, which he based upon Buddhist (Udana 68-69) or Jainist (Tattvarthaslokavartika 116) scripture.

The Blind Men and the Elephant are often used to suggest that all viewpoints are equally valid. I hope that my little extension of the parable dispels this notion:

The Seventh Man sat on his rock,
and gave the spit a turn,
warmed his hands upon the fire
then cried "You'll never learn.
The Elephant is cold and hard,
but, brought too close, will burn!"

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.