Dickinson Poem


How do the various elements of the poem contribute to the whole?    



Emily Dickinson’s 1263 poem “Tell all the truth but tell it slant -” aims for the reader to question what is said to be the truth and what is actually correct rather than skimming the surface of what is said. She plays with the idea that people never delve into the meaning of one thing if it is not something they explicitly want to hear. In the first line the reader is advised to “Tell ALL the truth”, implying that someone must tell every part of a situation no matter how wrenching it may be for the listener. She continues in that line to slightly contradict herself by adding “but tell it slant”, slant meaning to introduce the fact or story from a emily dickinsondifferent angle that can be interpreted more softly. The second line, which can be contradictory as “lies” could have two meanings, I interpret as “Success” lying to the reader when in a “Circuit“. This image depicts a revolving wheel that never ends and thus does not succeed in anything. Dickinson claims that by circling around the full truth, one will never find success but instead lies. The next two lines tie into her argument, as the “Lightening” connects to being “Too bright for our infirm Delight” meaning subtlety that we fail to handle the real truth, although we should. Moreover, the alliteration of the “s” sound in the fourth line “The Truth’s superb surprise” causes the reader to slow down and has the connotation of a snake, possibly contributing to the fact that people see the full truth as something dangerous. To bring it all together at the end of this short poem, Dickinson leaves us with “The Truth must dazzle gradually- Or every man be blind” to exemplify the fact that the uncovering of the truth will be a gradual process but will eventually develop into something dazzling, rather than something a man will never live to see.

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