Conflict within man between the pressure society puts on us to work and the desire of freedom and doing exactly what we want.
In this poem Larkin muses about why he should let the ‘toad’, symbolisms of working, the ‘guilt’ and drive to work, paying bills and pressure, be such a big part of his life, and even influence him at all. He wishes he, like the ‘useless’ of low paid job people he mentions, couldn’t just be happy being poor but not working hard at all. He wishes he had the courage to turn his back on the world of money making and work, but does not dare to. He reocgnises towards the end that he has both the ‘toad like’ and the ‘relying on your wits like’ desres within him, which means he will be both unhappy about work but will never be able to fulfil his dreams of freedom he pines for.
Toads, though not indicative of the theme of work, one emmidiatly feels that this is something unpleasant. Toads evoke ‘bigger froggs’ which makes you think of something big. Toads traditionally are characterized as unpleasant, dirty, warty creatures, so one immediately knows that what larkin is talking about is not meant to be pleasant. However, at this moment the title is quite ambiguous as we do not know who these toads are reffering to, whether it’s to people or the social pressure of work at this point, though it later becomes clearer.
Organised neatly into 9 stanzas with 4 lines per stanza. Seems odd this poem is not a stream of consciousness, but is written and tacked very methodically and logically, like an argumented essay- perhaps to add the irony to the fact that this resembles something which would have to be worked on, like a piece of work. The rhyming in it is often half rhymes. The effect of this is that the half rhyming structure makes the lines slightly stand out in conflict to each other, perhaps reflecting the poet’s wider conflict within himself about work.
1. ‘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?’
Language quite colloquial and conversational. The toad and ‘squat’ evokes the imagery of a toad actually sitting on the man, which evokes heavy wet unpleasant pressure, which effectively conveys the poet’s horror at the work and pressur he feels. The rhetorical questions engage the reader, and makes the…