“Truth,” said a traveller,
“Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
Often have I been to it,
Even to its highest tower,
From whence the world looks black.”

“Truth,” said a traveller,
“Is a breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom;
Long have I pursued it,
But never have I touched
The hem of its garment.”

And I believed the second traveller;
For truth was to me
A breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom,
And never had I touched
The hem of its garment.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem “Truth,” said a traveller


  1. sassie says:

    i believe in the 2nd traveller wherein the truth is just a thing that cannot be seen or touch its just an abstract thing ..

    and we can find truth only in ourselves..

    but we cant say that someone is telling the truth because truth is cannot be seen by our naked eyes ..

    truth is like an air we cant see it but we can feel it ! 🙂

  2. Jim says:

    There is more than one truth out there. It is the truth as you see it, that one must choose. I choose the second traveler.

  3. Mia says:

    This is a great poem. I believe it is stating the truth in life also. The poem describes two very plausible ideas that two people could have and live by.

  4. Bob the builder says:

    a poem that would put any-one into deep thought about truth

  5. anne says:

    To me this read that it was the pursuit and desire of truth that is most important. Not obtaining and judging others by it.

  6. Mindy says:

    Who says that there is a definition of truth? The reason there are two travelers, I feel, is because truth is “in the eye of the beholder.” It lacks definition because it is a huristic concept, one where everyone has their own personal definition. Crane even says the same thing: “And I believed the second traveller; For truth was to me….” To me. That’s the message I got, truth is what you want it to be.

  7. Lamar Cole says:

    Real love is truth. Truth emanates from the heart.

  8. Anisah says:

    Maybe I have a more cynical view… I see it as truth is hard to define. It’s hard to find. It’s hard to distinguish between truth and a falsehood. We talk about truth most of the time like it’s some absolute concept, like it’s black and white, when mabye it’s shades of gray (sorry for the cliche). I think it also has the message that truth isn’t one absolute, it’s different for everyone who searches for it. Kind of like poetry, there’s never one meaning….

    But one a personal note, I also agree with the second traveller. I often find it hard to determine what exactly truth is. I don’t mean whether someone’s telling the truth or not, but in an abstract sense.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I’m seeing this poem in a diferent way than you guys. Then he says Truth, i think of God. He has seen God and he has gone to God, but never got close enough to actually touch Him. I love this poem because it says that truth is unreachable. He almost got there, but once he dies, he will finally be told the truth by God. Thats what i heard from this poem.

  10. Nalani says:

    AMEN! truth is infanite … truth “Is a breath, a wind, a shadow, a phantom; long have I pursued it, but never have I touched the hem of its garment.” No one has touched anything close to what truth could be defined as.

  11. Melany says:

    This poem says so much! I wrote a diary based on this poem for school. I found that “Truth has no one meaning” It dosn’t have one definition. Truth cannot be described. When someone asks you “Tell the truth.” is the truth the whole thing? Detail by detal? If so, truth is impossible to recall. Is truth the whole truth, and NOTHING short of it? This poem says that everyone is individual in their opinion of truth. This poem got me thinking, have I EVER said the truth? Is Truth more complecated than anyone on earth could reach? Truth is love, Truth is unpredictable, Truth is joy, Truth is pain, Truth is gone, Truth is lies… Think up some more “Truth is” by yourself. Those are the ones I have though up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Stephen Crane better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.