Even people who fact check and are scrupulous succeed, at best, only in approximating truth. That's because truth gets shoved around by such factors as point of view, or whose truth told from which political religious and temporal perspective. An attempt at objective truth shifts the point of view of reports of the truth from those of, perhaps, observers or participants to a different set of points of view, those of measurable data that are commonly agreed upon, but which still must be presented as somebody's point of view, either as synthesized and gathered text or lists or in some other form. The text or lists or raw data presents somebody else's selection of point of view, though it may be editorial.
Often times this leads to an overt or covert proxy war of authorities in which representitives of various points of view duke it out on the basis of a somewhat more sophisticated version of My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad. How much more sophisticated is open to question the more political or religious the particular "truth" in question happens to be.
So far, the kinds of truth we have been trying to talk about may have some sort of referent in the wold of facts, whatever that may be. But when one starts to talk about literary truth, simplicity goes out the window. We are talking about more than the weather on D-Day, we are talking about the emotional rightness of the weather on D-Day. We are talking about why Iago is whispering all these nasty lies into Othello's ear. We know that Iago says
he simply wants to destroy Othello for the pleasure of it, but if Iago is lying to Othello, then why, dear friend, do you expect that he's telling you the truth?
I would suggest, G., that poetic license is permission to tell the story in the way that works best, nothing more.
If you are telling a true story, a poem or a fiction, you still have the same responsibility here. You need to get the story told the best way you can. If the story is journalism, you need to understand the facts as best you can and present them as simply and straightforwardly as possible.
Here, your loyalty is to the facts as you understand them.
Your poetic license extends to the ways you may do that most effeciently.
In fiction as in poetry, your poetic license extends to the work itself. Your loyalty is to that work. Your question is what that work needs to achieve its most effecient independant shape. If it's effecient but not independent, the piece will never see a second reader, let alone publication. If it's independant but not effecient, its themes will be too minor to make an impact. Lies in this context are perfectly useful and even beautiful. If the lies are effecient enough, they help give the work meaning and depth in a way that attempting to tell an ill understood truth would not.
More perhaps later, Grinch. I'm interested to hear what you or others think, and to see how that affects my own thinking on the matter. Very interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up, and it seems well worthy of more thought. BobK.