Roald Dahl

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

Television - Poem by Roald Dahl

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.


Comments about Television by Roald Dahl

  • Rookie Tebogo Raphadu (8/2/2015 3:43:00 PM)

    LOL! (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 19,977 Points Kim Barney (7/14/2015 8:19:00 AM)

    This poem is on my favorites list, but it has a typo that needs to be corrected:

    The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
    With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,

    That should be Mr. Toad, not Mr. Tod. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,419 Points Dedan Onyango (7/11/2015 4:40:00 AM)

    I like the authenticity of the subject matter. It clearly brings the reality. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 724 Points Briony Nicholls (7/9/2015 6:21:00 AM)

    How so true! The wisdom of this poem can be extended to smartphones & the internet now. What amazes me is how all this electronic cacophony has created so much boredom, and the need for ever more brain stimulation than ever before in the masses (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 50,134 Points Frank James Ryan Jr...fjr (6/18/2015 5:55:00 PM)

    great rhyme scheme...A contemporarypot w/uch talent (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Shmuel Pearl (6/16/2015 2:40:00 PM)

    This poem applies today very neatly as it did then, even with the video games and internet which seems to absolutely sap everyone of their creativity and their intellect. EVERYONE IS ADDICTED TO THEIR LITTLE ********** SCREENS. You can't share a conversation or a night with someone without them constantly checking their phone. Put it down, and stop infesting your childs brain with the cacaphony. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,245 Points Mark Arvizu (6/10/2015 1:48:00 PM)

    I like soft cheese. ..... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 38 Points Esraa Hamdy (5/26/2015 11:04:00 AM)

    we need more poems like this :) (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,760 Points Howard 'the motivational poet' Simon (5/23/2015 5:37:00 PM)

    Lots of.wisdom here! (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,568 Points Stephen Katona (5/20/2015 6:20:00 PM)

    This is my favourite poem. I was thinking of Roald Dahl's 'Television' when I wrote a poem about smart phones called 'Smart Phone Zombie'. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 429 Points Ravi A (5/16/2015 12:02:00 AM)

    Nothing is a problem in this world if we teach our children how to use it effectively. Knife is not the problem - we can chop human heads and chop vegetables. That discrete power is in the hands of the user. This is what we have to teach our children from their molding age. Addiction to anything is to be avoided but addiction is a relative term. I may be a good book reader but from your point of view, it can be an addiction. This is the relativity. The habit of reading certainly has an edge over watching TV because, by reading books, the expansion of imagination is very much possible. Words can create umpteen images out of them which a TV cannot lend. Sound is a powerful creator of visuals. What are words other than a resonance of sound which is capable of giving rise to a set of images? While watching TV, we can teach our children to mute the volume during the ads. Where is the level of creativity in watching the same ads over and over again? To that extent, we can reduce noise pollution as well. Reading habit also will teach our children to be in a world of their own, far away from this maddening world. Self occupation this way is very much necessary in this presently noisy world. In the long run, our children will learn the benefits of being in the jocund company of books. Nice thoughts Ronal Dahl. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 12,078 Points Edgar Stevens (4/21/2015 4:15:00 AM)

    Television is the king, no matter what (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 832 Points Matthew Holloway (4/18/2015 3:31:00 AM)

    I wonder what he would make of the internet and games machines today, really enjoyed this poem (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 1 Points Kainat Zahra (4/13/2015 9:58:00 AM)

    Television....haha...NYC poem (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 57 Points M. Zaher (3/13/2015 1:47:00 AM)

    Nice poem. I like it.. thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Hallie Gee (2/24/2015 11:49:00 AM)

    I like this poem a lot, because of the rhythm and the message. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jeremy Williams (2/22/2015 2:54:00 AM)

    My grade 7 class will love this! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 19 Points Yuen Wong (1/12/2015 10:41:00 AM)

    clearly we need another poem about smart phones (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 215 Points Lakshmi S Bose (1/8/2015 3:28:00 AM)

    Nicely written about television effect in life Thanks author (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Alison Massa (1/4/2015 2:41:00 PM)

    I helped my grandchildren learn to read and have read to them as much as possible ever since. The house is full of books and they go to a good school. Still, by six and seven, I was saddened to find how reluctant they'd become to read. They have grown up with children's movies on DVD and now they watch the Disney Channel - far too much - and I'm afraid the battle is lost. I just played them a wonderful reading of this poem on BBC Radio and the nearly nine-year old pronounced it insulting! I had to explain that Dahl was exaggerating to make a point and that the important message today is the need for balance - which is perhaps the best we can hope and continue to work for. (Report) Reply

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



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Tuesday, January 3, 2012


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