Truth & Lies

An Anthology of Poems

Henry Holt
2001 | ISBN
Truth and Lies

Truth & Lies gathers poetry from different eras and cultures that reveals the many shades of being true and telling lies. Poets in this unique collection range from Sappho to William Blake, from William Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath. Truth & Lies was named one of the year’s best children’s books by School Library Journal.

How to Order

From the Introduction

Poetry is a particular way of telling the truth. Poems can uncover things. Often a poem will say what you know is true, but had never heard put into words before. Facts are only the hard edges of things; poems twist and turn the facts in order to get to the truth. A poem doesn’t enter through the front door. It goes in the back or through a window.


“She leaves very few stones unturned. … This quietly moving and intimate
anthology tugs at the truth behind lies, and the lies behind truths.”

Read an Excerpt

from”The Simple Truth”
by Philip Levine

… Some things
you know all your life. They are so simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of ligh gathering
in the shadows of the picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves…


“Tell All the Truth”
by Emily Dickinson

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—