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?
'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

  • Rajendra Rout (9/26/2017 10:28:00 AM)

    it was a very beautiful poem.i enjoy your poem. (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Subhas Chandra Chakra (9/6/2017 1:49:00 PM)

    That nauseating, foul, unclean,
    Repulsive television screen!
    And later, each and every kid
    Will love you more for what you did.
    Nice, funny poem.
    (Report) Reply

  • Katrina (8/30/2017 6:01:00 AM)

    Dear Mr Dahl where would we be without your magic? Indeed curious what he would have said about the internet. (Report) Reply

  • (7/15/2017 1:56:00 PM)

    Great poem. I, d read more but I gotta go watch The Simpsons rerun on TV. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Hopkins (7/8/2017 6:41:00 AM)

    Very witty and sarcastic poem. Fun to read. (Report) Reply

  • Bri Edwards (6/26/2017 9:25:00 PM)

    to my/our July 2017's 'showcase for and by PH poets'.

    bri :)

    (Report) Reply

  • Angela Cox (6/4/2017 10:12:00 PM)

    just lovely! this poem is excellent (Report) Reply

  • Awesome Nick (2/22/2017 4:27:00 PM)

    Definitional and non summary (Report) Reply

  • Bri Edwards (2/17/2017 6:16:00 PM)

    A dozen eyeballs on the floor. .............those were probably the snacks that fell from a tipped bowl on the coffee table. a good laugh here. and i think it was fine to not end with a rhyme this time; probably better.

    They don't climb out the window sill, ......i make suggestions to (a) live poets; why not dead ones! ? ................
    ..........................don't you think o'er (for over) would be a wee bit better than out? ? just askin'. no need to respond.

    i think the author forgot to click off the caps lock key on his keyboard! besides, he wanted to sell books, probably, so of course he would dis*** TV viewing! i bet the poet never watched Captain Kangaroo or I Love Lucy. you know, the educational shows i grew up with!
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    *** dis
    verb: diss

    speak disrespectfully to or criticize.
    I don't like her dissing my friends

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    That nauseating, foul, unclean,
    Repulsive television screen! ............ok, Roald (what kind of name is that?) , tell us what you really think about...................................................................................TV!

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    my offering to R. Dahl, et al:

    Before TV, Before Books …..[inspired by Roald Dahl’s poem “Television”; thanks to Rod Mendieta; human development; spare time; medium length; anthropology]

    Before children had books OR TV,
    what DID they do? Now you'll see.

    They hunted, or were carried....
    by their moms who dug up buried...
    tubers and grubs which she could find.
    There were no French fries; they did not mind.

    They played, in all their nakedness, with dogs;
    they practiced walking atop long, fallen logs;
    they lived in Nature, as close as could be done,
    and thought a lot, while at their work or their fun.

    They made up stories to explain what they did see,
    Including the clouds, the beasts, and each living tree.
    They scanned the skies with wide eyes day and night,
    Inventing “constellation” images among the stars bright.

    They did all sorts of things, many of them with great zeal.
    AND, when they were bored, they invented “Writing” and…….
    “the Wheel”.

    (February 17, 2017)

    bri ;)

    Roald's to MyPoemList.
    (Report) Reply

  • Sylva-onyema Uba (1/26/2017 11:44:00 AM)

    A well punctuated poem. nice piece!

    Sylva-Onyema Uba.
    (Report) Reply

  • Rod Mendieta (12/14/2016 6:14:00 PM)

    Willie Wonka's dad has done it again!
    Another jewel, full of humour and witty social commentary. Had to mark it as a favorite. Willie Wonka's dad has done it again! (Report) Reply

  • Nishant Pandey (12/13/2016 10:48:00 AM)

    Best ever
    Really many years of experience do you nicely pennes (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (12/11/2016 1:51:00 PM)

    tom allport
    we are slowly being turned in to machines (Report) Reply

  • Dan Reynolds (11/30/2016 3:41:00 AM)

    Oh the irony.
    We have recently been series recording the Tales of the unexpected episodes on SKY arts. A classic old series of short stories, introduced and partly written by......Ronald Dahl.; -) (Report) Reply

  • Shareq Rahman (11/17/2016 7:06:00 AM)

    TV is bad. Internet is worse.
    I try to read classical poetry and cultural news in seven languages on the internet. I don't buy any books. Paper books are outdated and clumsy for me. But I respect Gutenberg. (Report) Reply

  • (11/11/2016 5:14:00 PM)

    Yo homies
    Chingwong in da house love de poem but don't like you haters (Report) Reply

  • (11/11/2016 5:12:00 PM)

    Omg wth this is so amazballs I am so toots inspired 🤑🤑🤑 (Report) Reply

  • (11/11/2016 5:10:00 PM)

    Lollllooloo John chingwong in de house boys (Report) Reply

  • (11/11/2016 5:06:00 PM)

    Lovely lol poem I read it to my hubby and tots (Report) Reply

  • Stephen Loomes (11/6/2016 2:30:00 AM)

    The Slime
    Frank Zappa said it beautifully, I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away, I'll make you think I'm delicious with the things that I say......have you guessed me yet? I'm the slime dripping out of your TV set. Well done Roald, war hero, poet and well done Frank for reminding us. (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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