Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant by Emily Dickinson

Categories: Emily Dickinson

The title in Emily Dickinson's poem, 'Tell all the truth but tell it slant', suggests already that the use of the conjunction 'but' shows that she commands the reader to do something in a particular way. In this case, the word slant signifies that the truth should not be told all at once, or in a straightforward way, as a slanting position has a slope or is set at an angle. The poem is one stanza that is eight lines long, with noted nouns being capitalized such as 'Circuit', 'Delight', and 'Lightning', with pauses being featured in the first and last lines.

While it is already established that the speaker wants the truth to not come out rather so boldly and upfront, she progresses this idea by showing that success is rather too bright, or powerful for the people's rather weak desires, that they may not be able to handle the truth as it is in its bare form. The Truth in line 4 is capitalized as it is the focus of the whole poem and how it should be handled and tamed.

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In line 5, there is a strong contrast between strong, thunderous lightning and how children are rather naïve and innocent; with the words 'eased' and 'kind' being used in lines 5 and 6, it rather shows the aggressiveness of the lightning being able to mellow down as the truth becomes more 'kind' or broken down into more gentler terms. Finally, in lines 7 and 8, Dickinson emphasizes her original point further as the word dazzle shows brightness or radiance, that must be trickled down and set at a rate rather than be poured out all at once for people to be able to handle what it given to them.

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The first and last lines of the poem end with a pause in which the beginning is established by the speaker's portrayal of how much power and force is embroidered into the truth, while the pause in the last line gives an idea that the truth will forever continue to blind all the weak-minded people unless it can be manipulated. In addition, Dickinson portrays humans to be rather fragile and frail, as 'every man' can be prone to blindness, or not handling the truth while children must need to be given it in a more delicate manner. This stems off into how emotions can be taken into account and can affect people's ability to manage themselves, while the truth takes on a powerful role that is unavoidable and has to continue to exist according to Dickinson as she uses a commanding tone and the word 'must'. Therefore, the truth is essential but can still be managed into ultimately shielding people.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant by Emily Dickinson. (2021, Apr 24). Retrieved from

Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant by Emily Dickinson essay
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