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Robert Browning; FIFINE AT THE FAIR, 1872

Being told the truth can be a painful experience for the listener, and a liberating experience for the truth teller. The listener may be crushed under the weight of truth, while the teller feels a burden has been lifted off his or her chest. Truth is a weighty thing. This wisdom has been traced back to English poet Robert Browning, noted for his mastery of dramatic monologue and psychological portraiture. After the death of his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in 1861, Robert Browning produced several long narrative poems, including Fifine at the Fair, in which he wrote: “So absolutely good is truth, truth never hurts the teller.”

Other writers, referring variously to the truth teller or the truth listener, have expressed “Truth often hurts,” “Truth never hurts,” and “Truth always hurts.” George Bush, when he was vice president, used the maxim:
We want the truth. The President wants it. I want it. And the American people have a fundamental right to it. And if the truth hurts, so be it. We gotta take our lumps and move ahead. NEW YORK TIMES, 1986 (Pg.273)

Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose dramatic monologues put him high among the Victorian poets. His verse was noted for irony, characterization, dark humour, social commentary, historical settings and challenging vocabulary and syntax. Wikipedia

“Words to Live By: The Origins of Conventional Wisdom and Commonsense Advice” by Charles Panati

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