By Anne K. Kaler
Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant
by Emily Dickenson
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind –
When I reread Dickinson’s poem below, my interest ground to a halt at her image of slanting truth.
Truth, I was told and taught, was to be “true” or it is not Truth. How dare she, a poet of great worth, suggest that anyone lie about a fact by relating it from any angle but a “true” perspective! How bold of her to suggest that any artist or story-teller would chose to alter the reader’s view of the sacred Truth. What nerve she had to encourage non-truth telling to her willing listeners!
(I found my ire forced me to use exclamation points in righteous indignation!)
Then I read the rest of the poem, read it out loud, and heard her major image emerge in all its glory, like a monarch butterfly pausing from his chrysalis pausing to let his wings dry fully.
Indeed, the entire Truth, likened as it is to the dangling butterfly, must come to humans slowly, lest its brilliance bedazzle and blind the human eye with too heavy a burden of what Truth really means.
So just how slant is my writing? Or yours? Do we stun our readers with harsh truths too readily? Or do we shield our readers with softer views, reducing her “superb surprise” of the full light of full Truth, in order to keep them calm like children?
Think on this, my writing friends, and judge just where your own Truth in writing rests.
Click here for the Submission Guidelines for the Winter 2020 issue of our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal. The deadline is November 30, 2020. We editors look forward to your submissions in any genre – memoir, essay, short story, novel excerpt, poem, or flash fiction. Keep writing!