Toads poem summary

About the poem

‘Toads’ is a poem by Philip Larkin published through the collection of ‘The Less deceived’ in 1955. ‘Toad’ here refers as the necessity and value of work.  The poet describes the relationship between the modern people and their work. This poem is written in 9 stanzas and each stanza has four lines. The poet uses toad as metaphor to describe the work situation. 

The toad in the poem is defining the pressure of ‘job’ as how a modern people unwillingly have to do their job just for paying few bills even though they are not satisfied with their pay, still they have to fulfill their duty as part of their work, it is like poison for them. Further, the pressure which a working person have to go through is just like toad who signifies here not only the pressure but financial stability, obligations and exterior for working class, by the poet.

Theme of the poem

The theme of the poem is based on ‘freedom and confinement’, ‘hopes and expectations, and ‘dissatisfaction’ of modern class working people.


In the first stanza, poet compares his work with a toad, like; how toad has sat against his will and destroying his life, and he wants to get rid of that toad by using pitchfork (an equipment to remove grass) but he is not able to remove.

In the second stanza, the poet describes how he works whole week (6 days) just for paying few bills, which is not up to the proportion (low pay), here the poet is justifying that whether the pay is low or high the modern people still have to go and do their job.

In the third stanza, poet giving an example of few people who earn money simply, by using their mind like Lecturer, Lispers (speakers) Losels (worthless people) and loblolly (foolish people). And they still live good life and don’t end up living in poverty.

The fourth stanza, describes that there are lots of people who live on streets (lane) and still they have privilege to manage fire and cook food in a bucket not only that but they are able to eat when wind blows and fruit falls, it seems that they like all these.

The fifth stanza, shows that how nippers (children) run around without having slippers in their feet. And the wives of these people do not speak and they are so skinny like whippets (skinny dog) and still they don’t die but manage to survive.

In the sixth stanza, the poet wishing for courage to go and tell his boss to shout your stuff (your pension). But on the other hand, he is also aware about that all the dreams are hang on this job and pay.

The seventh stanza, here the poet says that toad which is sit inside me is so heavy like his leg is as heavy as his work. Using Metaphor, the poet compares his workload with a heavyweight toad. Also, the toad is as icy as snow. It signifies that working in 6 days a week has no fun, but still have to do to pay bills.

The eighth stanza, the poet describes that toad won’t allow me to do blarney (to persuade with charm) to speak properly. All the things (money, girl and fame) which I want in for better living is not coming to me by just sitting, so I have to work.

And in the last stanza, the poet says that my external toad has created my internal toad (spiritual body) so it’s difficult to lose both of them together. The poet says that both are my external and internal forces, so it’s hard to loose either.

The poet uses Toad as a subject to realize the value of work and necessity for living whether we wish to do or not, It signifies the value of work, even if it is humdrum (boring) for humankind. We all have to perform our duty and do the job, also poet says that majority of people do.

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