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A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Toads Revisited’

A summary of Larkin’s amphibious sequel

‘Toads’, Philip Larkin’s celebrated analysis of the realities of everyday workaday drudgery versus a life of freedom and unemployment, appeared in his 1955 collection The Less Deceived. In 1962, he was inspired to return to the same subject – and the same metaphor – for a follow-up poem, ‘Toads Revisited’, which we’re going to subject to a bit of Interesting Literature-style close reading in this post. You can read ‘Toads Revisited’ here.

Larkin once observed that ‘Deprivation is to me what daffodils were to Wordsworth’, and the title of Larkin’s poem subtly echoes, but also parodies, such Wordsworthian titles as ‘Yarrow Revisited’. ‘Toads Revisited’ carries a somewhat less glamorous edge: indeed, the toad was seized upon by the poet Marianne Moore as a metaphor for the ugliness that good poetry needs to contain. ‘Imaginary gardens with real toads in them’ was her assessment of poetry: the garden can be as beautiful as you like, but it must have the taint of grim reality about it. ‘Toads’ are unpoetic enough; to revisit them seems like wilful subversion. Read the rest of this entry