'To Television' by Robert Pinsky
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Not a "window on the world"
But as we call you,
A box a tube
Terrarium of dreams and wonders.
Coffer of shades, ordained
Cotillion of phosphors
Or liquid crystal
Homey miracle, tub
Of acquiescence, vein of defiance.
Your patron in the pantheon would be Hermes
Quick one, little thief, escort
Of the dying and comfort of the sick,
In a blue glow my father and little sister sat
Snuggled in one chair watching you
Their wife and mother was sick in the head
I scorned you and them as I scorned so much
Now I like you best in a hotel room,
Before I have to face an audience: behind
The doors of the armoire, box
Within a box--Tom & Jerry, or also brilliant
And reassuring, Oprah Winfrey.
Thank you, for I watched, I watched
Sid Caesar speaking French and Japanese not
Through knowledge but imagination,
His quickness, and Thank You, I watched live
Jackie Robinson stealing
Home, the image--O strung shell--enduring
Fleeter than light like these words we
Remember in, they too winged
At the helmet and ankles.
Editor 1 Interpretation
"To Television" by Robert Pinsky: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
"To Television" is a poem written by Robert Pinsky, an American poet, essayist, and translator. The poem was first published in The New Yorker in 1990 and has since become one of Pinsky's most popular poems. The poem is a critique of television and its role in society, exploring the negative effects of the medium on our culture and individual lives. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will examine the themes, imagery, and language of "To Television" to better understand its meaning and significance.
One of the main themes of "To Television" is the idea that television is a dangerous and addictive medium that can have negative effects on our lives. Pinsky suggests that television has the power to shape our perceptions of reality and can lead us to become disconnected from the world around us. He writes, "As soon as we turn it on, / Two countries live inside our heads / Where the missiles are, and where they aren't."
Another theme of the poem is the idea that television has replaced other forms of human interaction and communication. Pinsky writes, "We were a lonely planet / Before we loved this life on a screen." The poem suggests that television has become a substitute for real human relationships and that we have become too reliant on this medium for our social and emotional needs.
Finally, "To Television" explores the idea that television is a reflection of our culture and society. Pinsky writes, "We were a new kind of human being / Before Television arrived." The poem suggests that television has changed the way we think about ourselves and our place in the world, and that it has contributed to the erosion of our cultural traditions and values.
One of the most striking images in "To Television" is the idea of two countries living inside our heads. Pinsky uses this metaphor to suggest that television has the power to create alternate realities and to shape our perceptions of the world. The image of two countries also suggests a sense of division and conflict, as if our minds are constantly at war with themselves.
Another important image in the poem is the idea of television as a substitute for real human relationships. Pinsky writes, "We were a lonely planet / Before we loved this life on a screen." This image suggests that television has become a replacement for the kind of social interaction that is essential to our emotional and psychological well-being.
Finally, the poem contains a number of images that suggest the destructive power of television. Pinsky writes, "The signal is clear: / Even in Hell they have TV." This image suggests that television has the power to corrupt even the most evil and destructive elements of our society.
One of the most notable aspects of "To Television" is its use of language. Pinsky's language is highly evocative and often poetic, employing a variety of literary techniques to convey its message. For example, the poem makes extensive use of metaphor and imagery, as we have seen, to create powerful and vivid images in the reader's mind.
Another important aspect of the poem's language is its use of repetition. Pinsky repeats certain phrases and images throughout the poem, such as the idea of two countries living inside our heads, to create a sense of continuity and unity. This repetition also reinforces the poem's central themes, emphasizing the dangers of television and its impact on our lives.
Finally, the poem's language is characterized by a sense of urgency and intensity. Pinsky's tone is often passionate and urgent, as if he is warning us about the dangers of television and urging us to take action before it is too late. This sense of urgency is underscored by the poem's final lines, in which Pinsky writes, "The day may come when the rest of the animal creation / Will acquire the gift of speech / An invention that once seemed so promising / But this is not that day."
"To Television" is a powerful and provocative poem that raises important questions about the impact of television on our culture and individual lives. The poem's themes, imagery, and language all contribute to its message, warning us of the dangers of this powerful and addictive medium. By exploring the negative effects of television and challenging us to question our reliance on this technology, Pinsky's poem offers a bold and important critique of our modern society.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
To Television: A Poem That Resonates Even Today
Robert Pinsky's poem "To Television" is a classic piece of literature that has stood the test of time. Written in 1990, the poem is a commentary on the impact of television on our lives. In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve deep into the poem's meaning, its relevance today, and why it is still considered a masterpiece.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing the television directly, "Not a picture tube, not a machine." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as the speaker is not just talking about a device, but rather the impact it has on our lives. The speaker goes on to describe the television as a "dreaming machine," which is a powerful metaphor that captures the essence of what television represents to us.
The second stanza of the poem is where the speaker begins to explore the darker side of television. He describes how the television "eats your time," and how it can "swallow you whole." This is a warning to the reader about the dangers of becoming too consumed by television. The speaker is urging us to be mindful of how much time we spend in front of the screen and to be aware of the impact it can have on our lives.
In the third stanza, the speaker shifts his focus to the content of television. He describes how it can "show you glimpses of yourself," and how it can "make you feel like someone else." This is a commentary on the power of television to shape our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. The speaker is warning us to be mindful of the messages that television is sending us and to be aware of how it is shaping our beliefs and values.
The fourth stanza is where the poem takes a turn towards the positive. The speaker describes how television can be a source of comfort and companionship. He talks about how it can "keep the night at bay," and how it can "be a friend." This is a reminder that television can be a positive force in our lives if we use it in moderation and with intention.
The final stanza of the poem is where the speaker brings everything together. He describes how television is both a "monster" and a "miracle." This is a powerful statement that captures the complexity of our relationship with television. It can be both a source of joy and a source of pain. The speaker is urging us to be mindful of this duality and to be aware of the impact that television is having on our lives.
So why is this poem still relevant today? In many ways, the impact of television has only grown since Pinsky wrote this poem. With the rise of streaming services and social media, we are more connected to screens than ever before. The warnings that Pinsky gives us about the dangers of becoming too consumed by television are even more relevant today. We need to be mindful of how much time we spend in front of screens and how it is impacting our mental health and well-being.
At the same time, the positive aspects of television that Pinsky highlights are still relevant today. With the pandemic forcing us to stay at home, television has become a source of comfort and companionship for many of us. It has allowed us to stay connected to the world and to each other when we are physically isolated.
In conclusion, "To Television" is a masterpiece of literature that captures the complexity of our relationship with screens. It is a warning about the dangers of becoming too consumed by television, but also a reminder of its positive aspects. The poem is still relevant today, and we would do well to heed its warnings and be mindful of the impact that screens are having on our lives.
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