Between a book and a tv, it’s hard to choose

because I like them both! Or maybe not; they seem to have more in common than you think, judging by what my poet friend has to say about them in this special guest post.

Wot a book is [and why people watch telly]


I would begin my little prose

by showing some similarities

that most certainly exist between

reading books and watching tellys.

I happed upon a man

of a very strange persuasion, to my mind,

for when I paid him a visit

I looked and I looked but my eyes couldn’t find

a television set.

And it transpired [for he was a religious sort]

that in his opinion entertainment,

communication of knowledge and such

in books were from God but that the devil sent

telephones, radio and television.

Now all this set us to debating

the one with each other.

In the matter of argufying, I like

to begin at basics, or why bother?

what is a book?

or what a television?

let us look at both to see

if we can reach a decision.

My dear you are in Singapore

I cannot address to you my thoughts

as well as if you lived next door.

If I am to tell you ought,

it’s by transmission of a code I must,

with pen and paper that I bought.

For written language, you must know,

consists in sign and symbol,

sent in an envelope which when you open

will begin to decipher as you were taught in school.

Perhaps my code in words will run to pages

containing theories, and or, dramas,

sufficient to fill a book

to be read in your pyjamas.

To sum up then, my thoughts, first encoded

in alphabet letters, consonant and vowel

are then sent to be read by you

and interpreted, fair or foul.

In what way I ask differs this

to talking on a telephone?

why, the science is precisely the same,

my voice in the handset, whether I laugh or moan,

will move the carbon to create the code

sent by a pulse along a wire

to the very place of your abode.

The scrambled signal then by science reversed

is reassembled and amplified.

And you, my dear, will hear my voice

as clearly as though I were stood by your side.

The method of radio is the very same,

air now the medium and not the wire

by which my message came.

And how is the mode of communication

any different with television?

only now pulses created by light

will produce pictures to accompany my transmission.

We are talking about how we communicate,

principles and science remain the same.

Now we are come to nitty gritties,

which the more excellent? which more lame?

On either side of this debate gather

pros and cons bearing considerable weight,

it may well come down to which you would rather.


Gentledove has another poetry blog at The Rhyming Yack.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gentledove
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 01:06:51

    poor Nylus [hugs] she isn’t to know, many poems go straight up and stay there as they are, others go up rough and the author worries and frets over it and edits by chips and chunks until it looks quite different, this poem has been revised and is now called Books telly belly, but it conveys the same idea. In case anyone thinks that it is anti-literary and pro-television, I would say a written work has advantages over television and vice versa and I personally read much more than I watch, but that could have a lot to do with the content of much tv. Also tv is largely chosen for you by the programmers and dished up, it is still nice to go to a book shop or library and come home with an armful of books that you have chosen-that’s magic.

    nylusmilk: i’m pro both! well technically editors and publishers choose which books to publish too. 🙂


  2. Trackback: The Literary Pursuit Takes A Different Direction « The Literary Pursuit

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