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

  • Loppo Louie Loppo Louie (5/27/2016 9:07:00 AM)

    Excellent poem by this man.TV clutters the mind. (Report) Reply

    12 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Mysterious Person Mysterious Person (5/18/2016 8:10:00 AM)

    So true. If only Roald Dahl could see how much people today are into phones. I mean, along time ago everyone watched TV, well, mostly kids, but these days adults, teenagers and children are all on their electronics! What has come to this world? (Report) Reply

  • Glenn Frederick Baker (5/7/2016 7:18:00 AM)

    He makes a point but it is book orientated as we would expect from a fine author and no doubt an ardent reader.
    He has forgotten we played with toys, bricks, paper and scissors, clockwork cars, string, cardboard boxes, playing cards and anything else we could find. The style reminds me of John Betjeman.. (Report) Reply

  • Laura Marie Clark Laura Marie Clark (4/29/2016 10:39:00 AM)

    One of my favourites from my childhood. (Report) Reply

  • Melissa Melo García Melissa Melo García (4/25/2016 11:44:00 PM)

    I just love this poem, and more important now on 2016, kids that dont even know how to walk or talk but they perfectly know how to used the idiotic machine, machines, is awful, but this poem is perfection (Report) Reply

  • Leah Ross Leah Ross (4/17/2016 11:31:00 PM)

    so very true glad we don't have Tv & live off the grid (Report) Reply

    Declan Hoffmann (6/8/2016 9:32:00 PM)

    how did you post this comment if your off the grid? ? ? ? ? ?

  • rakesh panda (4/11/2016 7:17:00 AM)

    I liked (Report) Reply

  • Emily Krauss Emily Krauss (4/4/2016 9:54:00 AM)

    I agree that television should not be allowed for kids (Report) Reply

  • Teenage Mawuto (2/24/2016 8:12:00 PM)

    it's such a brilliant poem...reading exercises the brain (Report) Reply

  • Saleem Tharani Saleem Tharani (2/19/2016 5:40:00 AM)

    I mean not to repulse of all the views above, just speaking for self, Me I find peace from watching Television, Where else would I get the lost emotions, the natures profound portray (which this ridiculous civilized life has forced to shun) and where would I get the reminder that I can laugh, cry and Live!

    The tiny portion of my day off the work, Television it is! All the joy out of the box.... (Report) Reply

  • Mehnoor Rizvi (2/17/2016 9:26:00 AM)

    What a joy to read such a poem. Such a strong deep and important message given in extremely Oft eaay and hilarious way. One cannot go without taking the poeter advice into heed. Thumps up to such work. (Report) Reply

  • Ernest Makuakua Ernest Makuakua (2/1/2016 9:35:00 AM)

    wow nice beautiful piece very educating and powerful poem.

    thanks for sharing im inspired (Report) Reply

  • Khaoula Basty Khaoula Basty (12/20/2015 12:21:00 PM)

    lovely and interesting poem (Report) Reply

  • John Crowe John Crowe (12/16/2015 5:00:00 PM)

    The computer did more to kill books than TV did. (Report) Reply

  • Sweetie Crystal (11/24/2015 10:13:00 AM)

    It's so long but I like it 'cause its by Ronald Dahl (Report) Reply

  • Seema Jayaraman Seema Jayaraman (11/2/2015 11:04:00 AM)

    I absolutely agree, the ill effects of tv on young minds.. But as a working mom of two i admit i have often taken this route to keep my tiny tots still and out of my hair. (Report) Reply

  • Gauri Vyas Gauri Vyas (10/17/2015 9:49:00 AM)

    This is awesome! !
    i could never write an elongated poem like this!
    i didn't get bore reading this one because it has so much to keep you engrossed and of course the rhythm does its work perfectly :) ...10 (Report) Reply

  • Frank Ammerlaan Frank Ammerlaan (10/9/2015 5:34:00 PM)

    Amen tot gaat, mr Dahl. (Report) Reply

  • Pamela Sinicrope Pamela Sinicrope (9/13/2015 9:13:00 AM)

    Yep... I just shared this. We need the new version for adults too... With our iPhones and Facebook and PoemHunter, and email, and shopping apps, and silly games, and photo files, and on and on it goes! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (8/12/2015 4:09:00 PM)

    ....a wonderful tribute to one of man's greatest inventions ★ (Report) Reply

Read all 177 comments »




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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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