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Toads -- Philip Larkin

My turn to contribute to the theme:
(Poem #544) Toads
 Why should I let the toad work
 Squat on my life?
 Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
 And drive the brute off?

 Six days of the week it soils
 With its sickening poison -
 Just for paying a few bills!
 That's out of proportion.

 Lots of folk live on their wits:
 Lecturers, lispers,
 Losers, loblolly-men, louts-
 They don't end as paupers;

 Lots of folk live up lanes
 With fires in a bucket,
 Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
 They seem to like it.

 Their nippers have got bare feet,
 Their unspeakable wives
 Are skinny as whippets - and yet
 No one actually _starves_.

 Ah, were I courageous enough
 To shout, Stuff your pension!
 But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
 That dreams are made on:

 For something sufficiently toad-like
 Squats in me, too;
 Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
 And cold as snow,

 And will never allow me to blarney
 My way of getting
 The fame and the girl and the money
 All at one sitting.

 I don't say, one bodies the other
 One's spiritual truth;
 But I do say it's hard to lose either,
 When you have both.
-- Philip Larkin
A typical Larkin poem: dry and to the point, it echoes the quiet desperation
which infuses much of his work. The comparison between the two toads of the
title [1] - the sickening poison of the toad 'work', and the lack of courage of
his own baser self - is not overdone at all; instead, Larkin's matter-of-fact
tone reinforces the sense he is trying to convey.


[1] Alliteration watch!


" ... Philip Larkin is the poet of the emotionally underprivileged. He speaks
for the vast majority of people, for whom life is a series of successive
disillusionments. His poetic personae are invariably unprepossessing - the man
with bicycle clips on his trousers, sitting in an empty church; the outsider,
looking in on the merrymaking of other people; the traveler who has (both
literally and figuratively) missed the boat. Yet if we describe his subject as
being 'the short end of the stick', all we can say is that he has a firm grasp
of it; like Thomas Hardy (one of his early influences), he is an intelligent
skeptic, rather than a shallow cynic or a bitter loser.

Larkin's distaste for the spectacular extends itself to the _manner_ of his
poetry; his verse exhibits the same precision and clarity as does that of Yeats.
His relatively small poetic output reflects his sense of balance and his
attention to detail... "

        -- Gary Geddes, 20th Century Poetry and Poetics

(The above paragraphs are from memory, so they're not verbatim. The overall
sense is correct, though - t.).

81 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Sunil Iyengar said...

Hi Abraham,

I've always been uncomfortable with the last stanza; what do you suppose the
"both" of the last line is referring to?

(I have some ideas.)


jen said...


I am studying this poem and at a loss.

I am wondering if you can point out the technical aspects, the
mechanics, literary devices, and images in this poem.

Thanks, Jennifer

Michelle Egan said...

I think the last two lines are talking more about how if you had only had the bad work and not the fear about quitting, you could change your situation and have the freedom to do what you want. Or if you had the good luck of already having that freedom but still have lack courage, it wouldn't matter because you would never have to change you job. However the man in the poem has both. He has job he hates and not enough courage to quit and his desire to quit is out weighed by the strenghth he has to do something about it.

99halimefarrah said...

what is this poem about? does anybody know? is there anybody out there?

hamerton said...

im studying this poem as well and i was wondering if you could help me too.i hoping that you got help from someone else. anything will be helpful...thanks

MrkPdly said...

What is this poem all about. I interpret it as being about someone who is
working for a living and not enjoying it. Toads Revisited is another poem I
need to study and I think this is about the same man once he has retired. Am I
anywhere near the right track

Kate Pedley

melek bulut said...

I am studying those poems TOAD and TOADS REVISITED by Philip Larkin. I was wondering if you could help me too. I need the
mechanics, literary devices, and images in the poems. And I need to compare them, what is equal and what is different? What is the message of those poems? PLEASE HELP!! I need the answers quickly.
thanks so much, melek ;o)

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Julian Archer said...

It's not "losers", it's "losels": look it up.

Julian Archer said...

And "my way to getting", not "of getting"; poor old Larkinn must be
turning in his grave...

khaloua said...

Hello i am studying the poem and i want some ideas about it please

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Anonymous said...

I love this poem! Philip Larkin represents my life and he likes my anus!!! I want his cock!

Anonymous said...

well said young sir, i agree fully with this statement. who doesnt want his meaty stick!

Anonymous said...

ummmmm meaty sticks.... I came... mmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Trolls in da house!!!

Anonymous said...

Troll in the Dungeon!!

Anonymous said...

Ryan Boyce likes troll cock in his bum bum

Anonymous said...

we have a larkin troll in the jungle!!! Achtung!

Anonymous said...

and Larkin gently carressed his cock against Ryan's anus, and moaned like a rabid squirrel. Larkin thought to himself, I should write a poem about this boy. Ryan offered Larkin a view of his pond but Larkin was only interested in the pond of cum he would create in Ryn's ass.

Anonymous said...

suddenly a wild robin appeared and offered his anus. but larkin refused it was of poor quality and his load had been flung into a tearful ryan

Anonymous said...

Ryan rolled away, lit a fag and blew the smoke into the bedpost. A lone tear rolled down his pale face. He wanted Larkin's load in his face where he could taste it. Alas, it was the best sex he'd ever had. Though Ryan is 17 and Larkin 63. Ryan liked the older man and Larkin enjoyed playing with virgin ass. It was a match made in heaven.

Anonymous said...

ryan bent down before larkin, he wanted more but he wasn't getting it...

Anonymous said...

larkin had to finish his poem the toad however ryan was having none of it and wanted to get his creative juices flowing but not those of the mind but the cock

Anonymous said...

Larkin thought, what the hell, I could do with a blowie. He unzipped his trousers and pulled out his schlong. It was 7 inches on flop. Ryan grabbed it with both of his sweaty hands and put his lips to the bellend.

Anonymous said...

larkin being the more dominant partner gave a savage thrust which slid into ryans half gaping mouth catching him by surprise

Anonymous said...

Ryan gagged on the donkey penis he had. He was amazed at its size. He wanted it all down his throat so he could feel it in his gullet. Larkin thrust Ryan's head against the wall and fucked his head with tremendous force. Ryan thought he'd get concussed but remember the sensation of warm semen in his throat and held on.

Anonymous said...

although ryan was resisting it was weak because he was enjoying it too much to attempt to remove larkin who was still pounding his head without hesitation

Anonymous said...

Larkin was thoroughly enjoying himself. He'd never had his cock so far down a man's throat. He started moaning and slapping Ryan in the face. He grasped his bollocks in his hand and massaged them gently.

Anonymous said...

ryan was in tremoundous pain and pleasue, a mix he welcomed most. larkin was near his climax but pulled out to carry on ferociously slapped ryan across the face with his meat.

Anonymous said...

never before had a man been so turned on

Anonymous said...

ryan capitalised on his new stance by tending harshly to larkin's moist meat sword, pulling backwards and forwards letting cum procjectile onto his clammy face.

Anonymous said...

shoving it willingly back into his mouth ryan rotated larkin's mummified cock, savouring each swallow

Anonymous said...

Larkin shrieked in ecstacy as he slopped his cock out of Ryan's face. Larkin grabbed him and threw him from the wall onto the bed. Ryan lay there, still and lifeless. Was it over? No, it was not. Larkin sauntered over to the bed like a sexual predator. He grabbed Ryan's flabby buttocks and pulled them apart to find the orifice he'd been looking for.

Anonymous said...

his schlong slid along ryans sweaty crease he moaned in delight, larkin followed up by slowly and forcefully plunging his erect cock, a whole foot of meat made its way into ryans messy hole.

Anonymous said...

Ryan's 2 inches were nothing in comparison. Ryan had envy for Larkin, to have such a trouser snake. Larkin pounded Ryan like an animal. Larkin slapped Ryan's ass and asked Ryan what his name was. Ryan opened his mouth to moan the name: Larkin. Ryan could feel his anus burning and he could feel Larkin's cock in his lower intestine.

Anonymous said...

larkin reached underneath and painfully gripped ryans scrotum yanking it like door handle. Ryans flabby body rippled like the sea and he was dripping with sweat that poured through his rolls. larkins dong was still rummaging through ryans rectum bruising it like never before.

Anonymous said...

Larkin plucked his dick from Ryan's limp anus. No he stuck his fist up him and used him like a ventriloquist'as dummy. Ryan enjoyed Larkin's fingers creating a strange sensation on his bruised rectum

Anonymous said...

Once done with Larkin, Ryan decided his sexual encounters were not done for the day. He rang his friend Will for some more homo-sexual plesure.
Will started off by gently slapping Ryans balls with a 30cm ruler.

Anonymous said...

In return, Ryan decided to whip his small penis out and cover it in glitter, then smack Will across the face with it leaving a shiny mark.

Anonymous said...

gareth gently licked the head of lewis bellend, he came instanly into gareths eye. While Michael gave Gareth the best spitroast he ever had, Jacob shoved his 2 incher into Michaels hairy shitter. This steamy encounter happened in Gareths cellar, where so many amazing nights had taken place for him. Michael, Jacob, Gareth and Lewis did this for hours on end, rotating positions every 20 minuyes untill 2am when they were joined by Gareths sister, Hollyanne and her two lovers Will and Patick. Gareth was delighted. 7 people in his cellar and one of them his sister? His dream had come true. Gareth could go no longer, he could not keep up with Lewis thrusting into his anus and Jacob blowing his load into his face was making him nauseous. However, he made plans for the 7 of them to meet up the next day .... and his gay sex incest orgy, would continue!

Anonymous said...

ingnore the previous comment it was written by a raging spaztic that has been returned to the wretched hole he crawled from

Anonymous said...

plz help e in larkin poem taods

Anonymous said...

The poem seems to suggest the sorry state of the modern man! He is constantly under some authority (read toads) and surely does not like it. However, he does not have the courage or maybe the status to change this situation.

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