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Emily Dickinson's Poem 'Telling The Truth'

Decent Essays
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Use tact when telling the truth. Not everyone can handle bluntness. She eases what sounds like a direct command by leaving the ending open with the dash. A period here would have truncated the statement and negated the statement. With the dash, she is able to carry on the thought. Success in Circuit lies

When you tell the truth, come at it in a circuitous fashion to ease the blow. She inverts the syntax and effectively avoids doing what she warns against – being blunt. Too bright for our infirm Delight

Hard truths are too difficult because delight is fragile, weak. She uses the word our here to show that she is included in the audience. This advice is for everyone.

The Truth's superb surprise

If you
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Dickinson uses capitalization in this poem to illuminate ideas. In these two lines, she is comparing Lightening to Truth and people to Children.

The Truth must dazzle gradually Truth doesn’t need to be like the bright flash of lightning. It needs to be given out gradually.

Or every man be blind —

If it’s not, the person receiving the truth can be blind-sided or overcome with it.
This poem is one of my favorites because of its brevity and its impact. She tactfully philosophizes how truth can hurt if it’s delivered maliciously or without thought to the other person. Tact is a life skill.
Poem #1129 reminds me of a line from Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”, “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within” (“Self-Reliance” 269). I think she is saying the same thing. Lead people to the truth, but allow them to connect the dots. It will be more meaningful in the end. It’s a little manipulative, but it allows the truth-receiver to grow and reach their own understanding – to be self-reliant according to their own perception of
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