It was six men of Hindustan 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
Against his broad and sturdy side at once began to bawl:
“Bless me, it seems the Elephant is very like a wall.”
The second, feeling of his 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 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 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 Hindustan 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, “The Blindmen and the Elephant”
Photographs taken in the Garden for the Blind, Freizeitpark Rheinaue, Bonn, Germany (June 2008 )