Study Guide

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Summary

By Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Summary

This poem is not told in an A-to-B sort of way. It's more of a musing without any particular direction or specific sense of time. In it, Dickinson explores the power of the truth and how best to tell it. The poem opens with instructions (are you taking notes?): "Tell all the truth but tell it slant—" and winds back and forth around that idea (with a good strong comparison thrown smack dab in the middle of it) for the full length of the poem. Mostly the poem is a meditation on the dazzling awesomeness of the truth and how to get it across without completely bowling people over or blowing their minds out of their earholes. (Sorry, that was a little gross.)