Study Guide

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Tough-o-Meter

By Emily Dickinson

Tough-o-Meter

(5) Tree Line

On the surface it looks like this is going to be an easy one. First off, it's tiny. It's only eight lines long, and some of those lines are super-short. Second, Dickinson stays on the same subject the entire time. And third, the vocab isn't too tricky. But after you dive in, you realize the central theme of the poem—the truth—could also stand for a bunch of other things. There's the surface of this poem—a shiny, perfect package—then there's all the stuff that's bubbling beneath it, which is murky, deep, and endlessly fascinating. Bring your hip boots and pack a lunch.