Literature Study GuidesPoems Of Emily Dickinson SelectedTell All The Truth But Tell It Slant Summary

Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) | Study Guide

Emily Dickinson

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2018, April 13). Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide." April 13, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide," April 13, 2018, accessed August 13, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Emily Dickinson's poem "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—."

Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) | Tell all the Truth but tell it slant-- | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

This didactic poem, written in Dickinson's usual ballad meter, gives a clear, simple lesson about telling the truth. One must tell all the truth, but one must tell it indirectly. By being somewhat circuitous, one meets with more success. The surprise of truth can be too bright, too startling, for occasionally weak human comprehension. Just as adults gently explain the phenomenon of lightning to easily frightened children, truths must be conveyed gradually, for to do so suddenly would be too much for people to take all at once: they would be blinded—or hurt—by the light of truth.

Analysis

The speaker, like the poet, holds truth in high regard. A keen observer of everything around her, Dickinson does not flinch from describing grim realities of nature and of death. As she does elsewhere in her poetry, Dickinson here represents "Truth" with light, as her diction in this poem reveals: "bright," "Lightning," and "dazzle." But the writer of "I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—" and "Because I could not stop for Death—" must certainly have known too much truth all at once can be hard to take: too much sudden light can "blind."

The poem contains diction that is playful in its use of sound: the sibilance in the second line—"Success in Circuit lies"—slows the line down, as does the internal rhyme in the third line and the juxtaposition of the similar-sounding words "superb surprise" in the fourth. Finally the paradoxical idea that something can "dazzle gradually" is highlighted by the assonance of those two words.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected)? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes