'Toads Revisited' by Philip Larkin

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The Whitsun Weddings1962Walking around in the park
Should feel better than work:
The lake, the sunshine,
The grass to lie on,Blurred playground noises
Beyond black-stockinged nurses -
Not a bad place to be.
Yet it doesn't suit me.Being one of the men
You meet of an afternoon:
Palsied old step-takers,
Hare-eyed clerks with the jitters,Waxed-fleshed out-patients
Still vague from accidents,
And characters in long coats
Deep in the litter-baskets -All dodging the toad work
By being stupid or weak.
Think of being them!
Hearing the hours chime,Watching the bread delivered,
The sun by clouds covered,
The children going home;
Think of being them,Turning over their failures
By some bed of lobelias,
Nowhere to go but indoors,
Nor friends but empty chairs -No, give me my in-tray,
My loaf-haired secretary,
My shall-I-keep-the-call-in-Sir:
What else can I answer,When the lights come on at four
At the end of another year?
Give me your arm, old toad;
Help me down Cemetery Road.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Toads Revisited by Philip Larkin: A Critique

Oh boy, where do we even begin with Philip Larkin's Toads Revisited? This is a poem that is both incredibly relatable and undeniably complex all at once. From its themes of work and leisure to its use of repetition and imagery, this poem is a masterpiece that demands to be analyzed and interpreted. So, let's get started!

First Impressions

Right off the bat, we're met with a speaker who is just downright miserable. He's stuck in a job he hates, and he's longing for the freedom of leisure time. We've all been there, right? But what's interesting here is the way Larkin uses repetition to emphasize just how trapped and suffocated the speaker feels. "Why should I let the toad work / Squat on my life?" The repetition of "why" and "let" really drives home just how frustrated the speaker is. He's asking himself why he's allowing this situation to continue, why he's letting work take over his life. It's a powerful opening that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the poem.

Work vs. Leisure

The theme of work versus leisure is one that is explored throughout the entire poem. The speaker is longing for leisure time, for a chance to escape the monotony and drudgery of his job. He wants to be able to "lop a branch or two" and "sit in the shade / And sip my tea." Who can blame him, really? But what's interesting here is the way the poem acknowledges the necessity of work. The speaker acknowledges that he needs to work to survive, but he doesn't want it to take over his entire life. This is a theme that resonates with many of us, I'm sure. We all need to work to make a living, but we also want to have a life outside of work. It's a delicate balance, and one that Larkin explores with great skill.


Larkin's use of imagery in Toads Revisited is nothing short of brilliant. Take, for instance, the line "Six days of the week it soils / With its sickening poison." The imagery here is vivid and powerful. We can almost feel the weight of the work week bearing down on us, see the poison seeping into every aspect of our lives. The toad is a symbol for work, and Larkin uses this imagery to really drive home just how oppressive and suffocating work can be.


The tone of Toads Revisited is one of frustration and despair. The speaker is clearly unhappy with his situation, and he's struggling to find a way out. But there's also a sense of resignation to his tone. He knows he can't just quit his job and live a life of leisure, but he can't help but dream of it. The tone of the poem is a reflection of the speaker's internal struggle, and it's one that many of us can relate to.


In conclusion, Toads Revisited is a poem that speaks to the struggles of the working class. It's a poem that acknowledges the necessity of work while also acknowledging the toll it can take on our lives. Larkin's use of repetition, imagery, and tone all work together to create a powerful and relatable piece of poetry. It's a poem that demands to be read and re-read, to be analyzed and interpreted. So go ahead and dig in. You won't be disappointed.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Toads Revisited: A Masterpiece of Irony and Satire

Philip Larkin is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his sharp wit, dark humor, and unflinching honesty. His poem "Poetry Toads Revisited" is a prime example of his unique style, blending irony and satire to create a scathing commentary on the state of contemporary poetry.

At its core, "Poetry Toads Revisited" is a critique of the pretentiousness and self-importance that often plagues the world of poetry. Larkin begins by describing a group of toads that have taken up residence in his garden, comparing them to the "poetry toads" that infest the literary world. These toads, he suggests, are the poets who are more concerned with their own egos than with the quality of their work.

The poem is structured as a series of stanzas, each of which describes a different aspect of the poetry toads' behavior. In the first stanza, Larkin notes that the toads "sit on the lawn, / Or croak out in the slush", suggesting that they are content to simply exist without actually doing anything of substance. This is a clear jab at poets who are more concerned with their image than with their craft, who are content to bask in the glory of their own perceived greatness without actually producing anything of value.

In the second stanza, Larkin describes the toads' "famous jumps", which he suggests are nothing more than "aesthetic stunts". This is a clear critique of poets who are more concerned with style than with substance, who use flashy language and clever wordplay to mask the fact that their work lacks any real depth or meaning.

The third stanza is perhaps the most scathing of all, as Larkin describes the toads' "self-important croaks". He suggests that these toads are more concerned with their own voices than with the actual content of their poetry, and that they are more interested in being heard than in saying anything of value. This is a clear critique of poets who are more concerned with their own egos than with the impact their work has on the world.

In the fourth stanza, Larkin takes aim at the critics and academics who enable the poetry toads' behavior. He suggests that these individuals are more concerned with promoting their own agendas than with actually evaluating the quality of the poetry being produced. This is a clear critique of the literary establishment, which Larkin suggests is more interested in maintaining its own power and influence than in promoting genuine artistic expression.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most ironic of all, as Larkin suggests that the poetry toads are ultimately doomed to failure. He notes that they are "doomed to failure, / Not by a cat's paw / Or the mouse's prayer", but rather by their own lack of substance and depth. This is a clear critique of the poetry toads' own self-destructive tendencies, as well as a warning to other poets who may be tempted to follow in their footsteps.

Overall, "Poetry Toads Revisited" is a masterful example of irony and satire, blending humor and criticism to create a scathing commentary on the state of contemporary poetry. Larkin's use of animal imagery and vivid language serves to underscore the absurdity of the poetry toads' behavior, while his sharp wit and unflinching honesty make it clear that he is not afraid to call out the literary establishment for its shortcomings. Whether you are a fan of poetry or simply appreciate a good dose of biting social commentary, "Poetry Toads Revisited" is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the complexities of the literary world.

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