What Is the Theme of Philip Larkin's Poem "Toads"?

The theme of Philip Larkin's poem "Toads" is a discussion of how people trade their passion for work in the name of money. "Toads" was published in 1955 in a collection of Larkin's poems titled "The Less Deceived." He later published a follow up poem title "Toads Revisited."

During his lifetime, Larkin published just five small volumes of poetry. In spite of this, he was considered one of the greatest poets in postwar Britain, and was offered the position of Poet Laureate in 1984, which he promptly declined. He preferred a more private and humble life.

"Toads" describes two toads, one representing a life visible to the external world, meeting the needs of those around it. This is a representation of people who must work for wages to earn a living, whether or not they enjoy what they are doing. The second toad is a form of the first, seen only by viewing work as necessary to survive.