Essay on How Work Is a Duty Comparing Two Poems

1504 Words Oct 10th, 2012 7 Pages
“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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The imagery of these types of people makes us see that the duty to work and having the choice to work are two very different things. With “Toads” it is similar, as we see the perspective of, what looks like, a working class man, we are presented the images of folk “living on wit”. It still seems that the persona of the poem sees work as a choice. Instead of people are obliged to work, the persona (Larkin) gives the impression that people are obliged not to work: “why should I let the toad work”, but yet they do have a choice to this day. Forgive me, but a rather humorous piece of imagery I picked up on was that of someone in a “squat” (Toads). Squatting could mean both homeless people looking for somewhere to settle, or it could resemble someone excreting (to be frank). This links to the work “duty” as it is sometimes called the same thing: I thought this was interesting.

To be able to fully understand the views of both poems we must carry out analysis is several different ways. Another way of looking at this poem is in terms of its rhyme and rhythm or tone; and how this may or may not give the impression that work is a duty. With “toads” we notice a rhyme scheme called ‘half rhymes’: when a word sort of rhymes but doesn’t. For example “work” and “fork”; “soils” and “bills”; “poison” and “proportion”. The fact that the words almost rhyme could mean Larkin wants us to take note how things just aren’t quite right. Duty and
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