Television – A poem by Roald Dahl

Standard
Television
The most important thing we’ve
learned,
So far as children are
concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER
let
Them near your television set
Or better still, just don’t
install
The idiotic thing at
all.
In almost every house we’ve
been,
We’ve watched them gaping at
the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge
about,
And stare until their eyes pop
out.
(Last week in someone’s place
we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the
floor.)
They sit and stare and stare
and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by
it,
Until they’re absolutely
drunk
With all that shocking ghastly
junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them
still,
They don’t climb out the window
sill,
They never fight or kick or
punch,
They leave you free to cook the
lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink
But did you ever stop to
think,
To wonder just exactly
what
This does to your beloved
tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE
HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION
DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE
MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND
BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER
UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY,
A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS
CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND
FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK —
HE ONLY
SEES!’
All right!’ you’ll cry.
‘All right!’ you’ll
say,’
But if we take the set
away,
What shall we do to
entertain
Our darling children?
Please
explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking
you,’
What used the darling ones to
do?’
How used they keep themselves
contented
Before this monster was
invented?’
Have you forgotten?
Don’t you
know?
We’ll say it very loud and
slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ!
They’d READ and READ,AND READ
and READ,
and then
proceed
To READ some more.
Great Scott!
Gadzooks!
One half their lives was
reading books!
The nursery shelves held books
galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery
floor!
And in the bedroom, by the
bed,
More books were waiting to be
read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic
tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens,
and whales
And treasure isles, and distant
shores
Where smugglers rowed with
muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple
pants,
And sailing ships and
elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round
the pot,
Stirring away at something
hot.
(It smells so good, what can it
be?
Good gracious, it’s
Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix
Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty
rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling
Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
and-
Just How The Camel Got His
Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His
Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my
soul,
There’s Mr. Rate and Mr.
Mole-Oh,
books, what books they used to
know,
Those children living long
ago!
So please, oh please, we beg,
we pray,
Go throw your TV set
away,
And in its place you can
install
A lovely bookshelf on the
wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots
of books,
Ignoring all the dirty
looks,
The screams and yells, the
bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with
sticks-
Fear not, because we promise
you
That, in about a week or
two
Of having nothing else to
do,
They’ll now begin to feel the
need
Of having something to
read.
And once they start — oh boy,
oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing
joy
That fills their hearts.
They’ll grow so
keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever
seen
In that ridiculous
machine,
That nauseating, foul,
unclean,
Repulsive television
screen!
And later, each and every
kid
Will love you more for what you
did.
Roald Dahl

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