Related Post of Art is a lie that tells the truth essays;
What is my relationship to the claims I'm making in this essay? The poems which you, reader, trust I've quoted correctly (and I have), allow you the freedom to disagree or concur with whatever I've said. But I imagine you accepted my anecdote about Roger as true. And it's not. Well, it's partly true, and I doubt if the degree of truth here would change your mind about the arguments of the essay. You wouldn't exclaim: No, you can't do that! And I needn't have admitted it, and wouldn't have, except that it seemed like a nice turn at this point in the essay. Someone else in my dorm that year showed me "On the Death of My Father," then told me his father hadn't died. I've forgotten his name. "Roger" came to mind, so Roger it was. I wanted a name to make the story more concrete, even more believable. Of course I could have made the whole anecdote up. Or just kept quiet about the "truth" of it.
“Art is the lie that tells the truth
Readers did believe, as did critics, and so "Confessionalism"—a movement no one really wanted to be in—was created. This often meant (among the weaker poets) that artistry was ignored in favor of personal revelation. Real truth would carry the day. Lowell suggests that in "any kind" of autobiographical and historical writing "you want the reader to say, this is true." The writer who presents his work as fiction, however much it makes use of the autobiographical, tells the reader to pay attention to the work itself. The transformation of the personal is what's important. By making the opposite assertion—conflating speaker and poet to present "the real," Lowell risks personal confession overwhelming artistry, not in the making of the poem but for some readers of it.
The shock of the last line depends upon the reader's assumption that the poet has a daughter, that the title, in other words, tells the truth. A more accurate title, like "Unpleasant Speculations About Fatherhood," wouldn't sufficiently prepare for the twist at the end. (How effective this move remains on repeated readings is a separate problem.) But there's no doubt that the final two sentences, on a first reading, are a significant surprise, and that the surprise depends upon an assumption about factual truth. I suspect that even readers who are theoretically disposed to keeping truth inside a set of quotation marks, who believe all "truths" are inventions, would be taken in by Kees's poem. The title is, after all, so conventional it doesn't seem to be hiding anything; it doesn't feel like a concept anyone would want to challenge. However wary we have become as readers, no one begins a poem entitled "For My Wife" by immediately wondering if the poet really has a wife. We can't be suspicious of everything.