Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words can also hurt me.
Stones and sticks break only skin
While words are ghosts that haunt me.
Slant and curved the word swords fall
To pierce and stick inside me.
Bats and bricks may ache through bones
But words can mortify me.
Pain from words has left its scar
On mind and heart that’s tender.
Cuts and bruises now have healed;
It’s words that I remember.
In the first stanza, the poet speaks about the pain caused by weapons and the hurt caused by unkind language. Sticks and stones hurt us physically. But we get hurt emotionally by rude and harsh language. We feel mentally upset and disturbed. The wounds caused to our body heal up fast but the insult caused by words disturbs our mind for a long period of time.
The second stanza describes the intense pain caused by bitter words. The poet says that objects like swords injure our bodies deeply. But don’t you think that angry and harsh words can also hurt equally? Don’t you think that such words can humiliate us and make our life miserable?
In the third stanza, the poet explains that the damage caused by harsh language is more than the damage caused by physical injury. Both leave scars - one on the body and the other on the mind and heart. But the scars on the mind and heart do not let us forget the experience.
The title, ‘The Truth’, suggests that truth is the greatest virtue. Being truthful is very important. But truth generally is bitter. Therefore, if one has to speak the bitter truth it should not be spoken in harsh and unpalatable words, for harsh and bitter words can deeply hurt the listener. They leave a long lasting impact. The pain caused by unpleasant words is much more unbearable and lasting than a physical injury. The poet suggests that one should speak the truth but in a mild and polite language.