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(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990 / Cardiff / Wales)

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"Mike Teavee..."

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. Rat 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.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004


Read poems about / on: television, children, purple, house, child, joy, fear, lost

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Comments about this poem (Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf by Roald Dahl )

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  • Amy Willows (9/15/2013 8:33:00 AM)

    I just love it he is right i just like tv 50 percent

    10 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Grace Mcgee (11/13/2012 6:09:00 PM)

    Haha I love him so much could you guys please check out and comment on my poem I'm new

  • John Smith (10/17/2012 10:16:00 AM)

    This is so amazingly true,
    For kids with nothing else to do.

  • Olivia Cejnar (5/25/2012 6:06:00 PM)

    I love Roald Dahl's books and his poems are just fabulous! I am quite familiar with most of them because they are in his books. (The Oompa Loompa's sing them in Charlie and the Chocolate factory.) I love Roald Dahl's books!

  • Ben Philp (11/7/2011 9:29:00 AM)

    I like roald dahl i thoert it was good

  • Sunshine Daydream (9/15/2009 5:30:00 PM)

    omg
    i lopve it
    i remeber reading Charlie and The Choclate Factory when my mom was away
    and i was feeling dull and sick
    until i touched the book!

  • Ginny S. (6/15/2009 10:15:00 PM)

    Haha! Oh my God I love this - I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was little, and I look back on this poem now and I think, wow, Roald Dahl was really just a crabby old fart.

  • Eugene Koo (5/14/2009 8:17:00 AM)

    those of you TV addicts...just got pwned by Mr. Dahl's poem
    I can't believe Roald Dahl wrote a poem like this...
    I have to show it to my brothers...so I can watch 9 o'clock news...

  • Janri Gogeshvili (3/2/2008 2:56:00 AM)

    Yes, for whom it is severe', but the Put problem in 21 century more aggravated … the child is fair … cannot yet is high-grade to realise world around, at once there is the slave _ so-called« entertaining technology »… I too addressed to this theme … (_' G ood-for-Nothing. 'A rhyme.' The Educational-Missionary Fund, '2003 )

    Will interestingly and pleasantly familiarise from biographies and creative potential Roald Dahl...

  • X X (2/22/2008 3:26:00 AM)

    haha this is the best poem i have read in ages!
    Roal Dahl got me into writign poems and i hope to write more in his style: D

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