Parable of the Statue of Truth

The following poem is based off of the following passage from a letter I wrote some time ago:

“I am not quite certain that I believe universal morality to be a rationally discernible thing. I see it, at this moment, as a glimmering marble stature buried in a cone of sand. The great men of each generation struggle up it, climbing to the top, and dust it off as well as they can before the winds of time take their lives; sometimes many are there, sometimes few. Whenever they dust off enough sand with their featherdusters to reveal a sliver of the statue’s neck or leg or stomach, they immediately take out their notebooks and sketch what they can, before the wind blows the sand back over their discoveries. Then they get out their dusters and start uncovering another part, and all the while their colleagues crawl over other portions of the mountain, doing much the same thing. When the great philosophers die their notebooks remain behind, and though the statue eventually becomes, again, fully covered, their notes are saved forever, for all posterity. Some great philosophers study all the notebooks and piece together bigger and bigger pictures; yet none are complete, for no man has seen the whole statue with his own eyes, and all have either seen a tiny part clearly or a large portion vicariously and obscurely; and thus the nature of objective moral truth, while somewhat discernible, is not discernible in its entirety.”



A very unuseful artistic depiction of this principle; a better one will be drawn someday.


There’s a statue in the desert

Buried in a cone of sand

Windy gusts adjust this blanket

Towering above the land


Wise men from the world over

Seek to know the statue’s whole

And they travel through the desert

In a journey of the soul


Each one takes his pick and shovel

And he clambers up the ledge

Digging sand away with vigor

‘Til he finds the statue’s edge


In his glee he keeps on shoveling

For what more there might he find?

Some men pause to draw the piece they found

To lose it not to time


And they labor on the mountain

Digging sand and seeking truth

But before they find the whole of it

Death takes away their youth


While they work, and when they die,

Still the winds of power blow

Blanketing unearth’ed statue-ends

Again with tawny snow


Thus in time the work of ages

Is rehidden in the sands

Generations of new seekers

Thus may harden, there, their hands


Though the minds which moved the mountain

Then are dead and gone, at peace

Those who left behind their drawings

Last a little more, at least


For some time every century

Is born a curious mind

Who then travels to the statue

And, discarded papers finds


These he pieces close together

Finding what fits and what won’t

And a new image emerges-

He now sees what others don’t!


For by taking every article

Of knowledge that’s been found

And discovering what’s true in each

He sees more of the mound


Than have any gone before him

In the quest for truest truth

Nonetheless, it is not perfect

For Death takes away his youth


Thus for many generations

Do men seek to know the thing

That is buried underneath the sand

Their praises, Angeles sing!


For their mighty quest is noble

They uplift Man’s sorry state

Yet no Man unveils the statue’s whole,

And none escapes his fate


But they are much better for it

Having sought to know, and tried

Their descendants, then, will sing of them-

They lived before they died!


Thus the Parable of Knowledge

Thus the Parable of Truth

None will know the sum of all the things

Til Death reclaims their youth


But in every one opinion

Is a strand of truth that’s right

And through humble co-acceptance

One’s mind may come to the Light


And discover all those principles

Which tick the Clock of Time

And, although it’s still imperfect,

Knowledge ‘ligns one with Life’s Rhyme.


Maybe in another world

Nothing will our knowledge stall

But for us upon this planet

One may never know it all!


And full knowledge of the statue

Underneath the sandy cone

Is reserv’ed to its maker

It is known to God alone!


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