How Work Is a Duty Comparing Two Poems

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“Work is a duty”: Compare and contrast two poems you have studied in the light of this statement.

It’s safe to say that “Toads” and “Toads Revisited”, both by Philip Larkin, have two very different viewpoints to work. Although written by the same poet, I feel they discuss the statement about ‘duty’ interestingly; both relay their points in a number of clever ways.

Looking at “Toads”, in the perspective of the poet, we start to see that there is certain imagery in the poem that tells us a lot about the poets’ view on work. The fact that the poet effectively sees work as a “sickening poison” tells the reader he feels work, in essence, make us ill. To a certain extent we realise that Larkin actually despises work: seeing it
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He wants us to see that there is only a slight but significant difference in the way one is made to work (duty) and the way one chooses to work (choice). In “Toads revisited” the same thing occurs: “Park” and “work”; “noises” and “nurses”. This further illustrates the point of how duty and choice are only slightly but significantly different. In terms of rhythm, “Toads” resembles some very interesting ideas using it. For example, how Larkin says “lecturers, lispers, losels, loblolly-men…” it is not only a mouthful of words to say, but the rhythm is different, in this little phrase, (on the alliteration of L) to the rest of the poem. This resembles two things: how in our lives there are difficulties, which come at spontaneous moments, which we just have to surpass. And also, the words are a mouthful to say resembles how work is difficult and takes effort. This is further illustrated by how you can’t have “the fame and the girl and the money all in one sitting”. The representations and underlying meanings of the way both poems are written in terms of syllables/rhythm/rhyme show how because work is so hard, people choose not to do it. It is disagreeing with the statement, that to work is an obligation.

There are various ways in which we can interpret these two poems, and compare and contrast these interpretations to the statement. I firstly interpret that in “toads revisited”, Larkin wishes to convey why it is he is in favour of working, and how he


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