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Analysis and comments on Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -- by Emily Dickinson

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Comment 26 of 386, added on June 17th, 2008 at 7:18 PM.


NAHSON KABUYAYA from Congo, Democratic Republic of
Comment 25 of 386, added on February 6th, 2008 at 5:37 AM.

"Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant"

Poetry can be perceived in many ways, this is my interpretation:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---

In the first line of the poem the letter "T" is alliterated in the words
"tell" "truth" "tell" to emphasize that telling the truth is important.
Dickinson then argues of the way in which the truth should be told.
Dickinson states " Success in Circuit Lies", here she alliterates "Success"
"Circuit" Using the soft sound of the letter "s". Thus only in the first
stanza she explains that the truth should be told, but cautiously. She
explains that many times we think we want to know the truth to our
"delight" but we are "infirm" , thus, being told the truth leads to making
us even more weak. We should avoid telling the truth as a "superb

In the Second Stanza,Dickinson deliberates on this explanation about
telling the truth. She explains that truth must be told as it is told to
the children and how it is explained to them. She uses "lightning" as an
example.( A mother would not tell her scared child to beware of lightning
because it would kill him. Saying so would shock or "blind" him with the
knowledge of the truth. Instead of shocking him she would instead care of
him and tell him as long as they were under their house they would be
safe.) She uses "kind" explanations. The truth must be told gradually, and
the mother could eventually teach her child of the true harm lightning can
cause, but "Truth must dazzle gradually".

Most importantly Dickinson explains that the teller of the truth must be
careful and gentle in the way he/she tells the truth. The teller is
responsible for her audience.

Katie from United States
Comment 24 of 386, added on February 1st, 2008 at 3:02 AM.

For of all I don't see how this poem can be about God. I believe that it is
about depression that weighs down your body. As the weather changes so does
your mood. The lines "We can find no scar,/But internal differences-", made
me think that the speaker of the people was depressed and no one could see
these scars inside of her/him.

Sara from Italy
Comment 23 of 386, added on January 22nd, 2008 at 12:12 AM.

A couple of things: First, even though "truth" is capitalized at all points
throughout, it's a reference to the Platonic idea of truth as a static
concept. Plato thought, contrary to the pre-Modern philosophers, that
there existed a world of ideas and that everything we see is an imperfect
replication of that idea. Plato thought that these imperfections, although
real, were less important than the world of ideas, which due to their ideal
nature, were perfect. See also the Allegory of the Cave and Plato's belief
in a single static truth from which there may be different perceptual
realities yet only one real truth.

Second, although the post about Dickinson's personal life is thoughtful as
to the subtext, it does not necessarily follow that Dickinson was writing
about what may or may not have been her personal experiences and beliefs
concerning the existence of a supreme being. What is just as likely is the
alternative explanation most people adopt after reading the text.

Since "Truth" is capitalized, and because the stanza concludes as it does,
I think it could just as easily be talking about the sudden knee-jerk
reaction most feel when confronted by something to which they do not agree.
The line "The Truth must dazzle gradually" is, I believe, a statement
about the nature of confrontation. That which we learn to accept over time
is much easier to swallow than a whole suddenly presented to us without

Third, every post thus far has ignored the second line of the poem.
"Success in Circuit lies." When the poem was authored in in the latter
half of the 19th Century, the judicial departments were divided into
Circuits. Like "Truth," I believe this word is capitalized for a reason-
it references the legal jurisdictional entities prevalent in her day. As
her father was a lawyer and public official, it is not unlikely that Emily
was exposed to the law at some level and was thus aware of the practice of
"slant"ing facts in legal argument in order to be "success"ful before the
"Circuit" court.

Thus, although the religious reading may be one valid way of reading the
text and understanding her biography, I believe the more likely result of
such a study produces a permutation of general and legal advice.

Not a Moron
Comment 22 of 386, added on January 16th, 2008 at 7:59 PM.

Carson, no offense but you're an idiot. The person who said "God is
probably not real" was saying it in reference to the poem, not about
himself. And even if he was saying it about himself, you shouldn't tell
people who don't believe in God to "go to church! read the bible!"
Seriously, it's rude. People have different beliefs than you do - get over

In fact I'm not convinced that this poem was about God. I think that's
stretching it a little. I dunno I'll look into it further

Rachel from United States
Comment 21 of 386, added on November 25th, 2007 at 6:25 PM.

Just to say something about that comment about that "God is probably not
real" you need to go to church. He is so real! READ THE BIBLE!

Comment 20 of 386, added on April 12th, 2006 at 12:33 PM.

Tell me how does this poem have any thing to do with religion. I don't see
the connection....

kayla from United States
Comment 19 of 386, added on February 27th, 2006 at 8:00 PM.

does anybody else think that reading emily dickinson in school is a
complete waste of time

Jerry Garcia from Canada
Comment 18 of 386, added on February 7th, 2006 at 5:01 PM.

At first I literally thought that Ms. Dickinson about truth. But after
redaing it I see that it is partially about God and that he's probably not
real. The first thing I noticed about the poem is that she capitalized
truth every time she wrote it. I have to thank my english teacher for
making me read this.

Sango from United States
Comment 17 of 386, added on January 19th, 2006 at 3:39 PM.

I read this poem in mr. Kruclis class and i thought it was fun

Angry Bob from United States

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Information about Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 1129. Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: 1955
Added: Jan 9 2004
Viewed: 1385 times
Poem of the Day: Dec 17 2002

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