"The Invention of Shoes" is a humorous and insightful poem by Rabindranath Tagore. The poem is a satirical take on power, knowledge, and the genesis of simple solutions to complex problems.
The poem begins with King Hobu expressing his anguish over his feet getting covered in dust every time he walks the street. He finds this unacceptable and demands a solution from his minister, Gobu, threatening dire consequences otherwise. This puts Minister Gobu and the entire court in a state of panic, fearing their fate if they fail to address the king's worry and remove the dust from the streets.
Various solutions are proposed, such as using brooms to clear away the dust and using water to wet the land. However, all these solutions only lead to more problems, like creating a dust storm or turning the land into a marsh, respectively. One person proposes to cover the whole land with mats or cloth or to sequester the king in his chamber to protect his feet from dust. The King rejects this, fearing it would hinder his ability to govern.
The idea of stitching a cover of leather large enough to envelop the entire land is proposed. But a lack of craftsmen and leather renders the idea futile. Finally, the old chief of the leathermen proposes a simple solution: to create a small covering for the King's feet instead of the whole earth. Despite initial shock and protest, the old man's solution is accepted, and he ends up creating the first pair of shoes for the king.
Thus, the poem humorously narrates the invention of shoes and underscores the wisdom in coming up with simple, practical solutions rather than elaborate, impractical ones.