vrijdag 8 februari 2013

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 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 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: Even 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 G. Saxe

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