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The Man with the TV

(by with apologies to Edwin Markham)

Amused by the ads of breweries he clicks
On his television and gazes at the screen,
The eagerness of childhood on his face,
And in his brain scant knowledge of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that never questions and that never thinks,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Which news channel failed to truthfully inform?
Which sitcom blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power.
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no viewer more terrible than this
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed
More filled with signs and portents for the soul
More fraught with menace to the universe.

What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of government propaganda, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this TV viewer the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in this modern moron;
Through this dumb viewer humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the network moguls of the land,
A protest that is also prophecy.

O journalists and advertisers in this land,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distracted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever educate these viewers;
Touch them with truth and differing opinions;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Build in them values and civility;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O journalists and advertisers in this land,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores?
How will it be with markets and with stocks
With those who shaped him to the thing he is
When this dumb Terror shall rise to beg and vote
After his conditioning by your idiot box?

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