Telling Lies to the Young Is Wrong

I came across this poem in the comments section of Justine Larbalestier’s blog, posted there by Chris McClaren, and had to steal it to post over here as well.  It’s just too good, and sums up my feelings in recent years about how we should teach our children and ourselves to look at the world.


Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world is wrong.
The young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.

–Yevgeny Yevtushenko.



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5 responses to “Telling Lies to the Young Is Wrong”

  1. Penni Avatar

    This poem reminds me of that Dr Seuss book ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’
    The text is reproduced here:
    In a way it’s actually quite challenging as a parent to read this book to a child, to tell them there’ll be times they’ll be lonely, scared or left behind. It’s utterly tempting to create a myth of safety and protection, to say, ‘Oh no you won’t die and I won’t die and we’ll always be happy.’ But then to think that they inevitably will be unhappy one day and they’ll have been told (through their parents, their books and shows, the safe assortment of objects that surround them) that they never would be at threat, or that they never will have to make difficult decisions, to think how utterly unprepared they might be when choices or sadnesses or dangers present themselves… that truly chills me to the bone.

  2. Christopher Barzak Avatar

    Thanks for that link, Penni! That is one of my absolutely favorite Suess books, actually. And yeah, definitely appropriate with the poem by Yevtushenko.

  3. Sandra Wamsley Avatar
    Sandra Wamsley

    First saw this poem in our college paper, I think, back in the early 1960’s. Some things never change, huh?

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