Roald Dahl

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

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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. 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: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Tuesday, January 03, 2012

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

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Comments about this poem (Television by Roald Dahl )

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  • Rookie - 46 Points Douglas Richmond (9/13/2014 4:18:00 PM)

    I really like this - very true and fun, and has made me want to stop watching TV and to read more! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 7 Points Byju V (9/13/2014 9:10:00 AM)

    Children nowadays have promoted themselves to video games, especially with the advent of smart phones. In my experience, even children who once read books now prefer games. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 18,739 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (9/4/2014 10:53:00 AM)

    Television a boon or a curse..as an essay topic but here dear poet has truly advised to parents refrain your child with this idiot box A grand message by R D (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Mo Jones (8/20/2014 10:28:00 PM)

    To those referring to this as plagiarism-
    Actually, Roald Dahl wrote the book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory in the mid-1960s. Furthermore, the 2005 movie referenced above is a remake of the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (also based on Dahl's book, obviously.)
    Google is your friend. Please use it to avoid such public displays of your lack of knowledge on subjects such as the one addressed herein. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Roald Dahl is A Rippoff Artist (8/9/2014 2:14:00 AM)

    I would just like to take a second to point out how many Hippocrates there are in the comments
    The first half of the poem...
    V
    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!
    - -
    Is ripped from the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.
    Mike Teavee's song.
    As such, the writer had to of listened to the movie's song at least 5 times to get every line correct.
    Do some research people! (Report) Reply

    Rookie - 0 Points Alan Gardiner (9/30/2014 3:53:00 AM)

    How could someone who dies in 1990 'rip' something from a film released in 2005? ! Dahl also wrote the book that film and the previous version were based on. Follow your own advice and do some research.

  • Rookie - 0 Points Roald Dahl is A Rippoff Artist (8/9/2014 2:09:00 AM)

    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!
    - -



    I truly, truly hope you guys don't think this is a REAL Poem it's from the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.
    Mike Teavee's song.
    Google it.


    and to Roald Dahl - I am truly saddened you'd rip off something like this and claim it was your own.
    It's not poetry, it's forgery. (Report) Reply

    Rookie - 0 Points Alan Gardiner (9/30/2014 3:52:00 AM)

    In addition to my previous comment, Roald Dahl died in 1990, so you've accused him of posthumous plagiarism...

    Rookie - 0 Points Alan Gardiner (9/30/2014 2:48:00 AM)

    Do you know who wrote the book the film is based on? If not, do some research before accusing others of plagiarism. I think you'll find it's not possible to plagiarise one's own work...

    Veteran Poet - 4,952 Points Frank Avon (9/1/2014 4:33:00 PM)

    PLEASE, put away the DVDs and read;
    books are the only thing you need.
    You'll find them on the library shelf
    where you can quickly help yourself.
    And if you persist long enough
    (it won't be hard, it won't be tough) ,
    somewhere near the library wall
    you'll find a book by Roald Dahl:
    Charlie and the Chocolate factory.
    Yes, that's right. That's it exactly.
    The book is neato! very groovy!
    and it came long before the movie.
    So put away those DVDs
    and READ the original - please, PLEASE, PLEEEEASE!

  • Bronze Star - 7,381 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (5/11/2014 4:18:00 AM)

    A meaningful poem in all its importance that is to be widely discussed about the TV in front of the child which sometimes makes the child dull and un imaginative. Nice and awesome. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 305 Points Joseph Sanchez (4/28/2014 11:36:00 AM)

    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 ab (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,790 Points * Sunprincess * (4/27/2014 12:50:00 AM)

    .......truly a wonderful poem and the television portrayed as a monster is a genius idea...enjoyed... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points isam Abdelrahman (3/10/2014 12:54:00 AM)

    Very sorry to confuse between Dahl and the other poet who wrote (No Child) but my opinion on Television is still valid ; I have always admired his novel My Uncle Oswald; he is more a novelist than a poet (Report) Reply

Read all 131 comments »

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