Toads – Explanation with Questions and Answers – CHSE Odisha +2 Alternative English


by Philip Lankin

Stanza by stanza explanation with Questions and Answers for the poem included in the CHSE +2 Alternative English book ‘Approaches to English – II’.

Click here to download the PDFs of Approaches to English I & II free of cost.

Stanza by Stanza Explanation:

A ‘toad’ is a small amphibian species with an ugly look. It hibernates for long months, and is known to be not particularly agile. In this poem, ‘toads’ has been used in a metaphoric sense.

Stanza One

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?


The author is clearly an over-worked jaded person who finds his life robbed of all good things because of the heavy work burden. He wonders if he can get rid of the ‘toads’ or tiresome routine of work through wit and trickery.

Stanza Two

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison –
Just for paying a few bills!
That’s out of proportion.


The author has to work for six days a week, so that he can earn just enough to ‘[pay his bills’. Here, ‘paying ones bills’ means ‘meeting the bare expenses of living. The author feels that it’s bad bargain, and he is losing out too much to gain too little.

Stanza Three

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
They don’t end as paupers;


The author argues that men of letters, and orators earn their living through lectures and talk shows. In the same way unsavoury characters manage to earn their living through acts that are hardly respectable. Even the assistants attached to doctors make a living although, just bare enough.

Stanza Four

Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
they seem to like it.


Even poor and the destitute living on roads manage to scavenge enough food to feed themselves. To fight off the cold, they keep fire buckets near them. Occasionally, they get tinned sardines (a rather costly food) to eat. None of these people starve.

Stanza Five

Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets – and yet
No one actually starves.


Their children move around in bare feet as they can’t afford shoes. Their emaciated wives with their sunken faces don’t have to starve.

Stanza Six

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff
That dreams are made on:


Then the author wonders if he could resign his job, and tell the same bluntly to his boss. In second thought, he realizes that leaving the job could have catastrophic consequences for him as all his earnings would dry up.

Stanza Seven

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,


The author reasons that things are not that easy or simple. Just as the irksome toad, there is another toad inside him that is quite demanding and unforgiving. It does not give anything free.

Stanza Eight

And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.


The second toad is quite hard-nosed. It does not allow any reverie where the comforts of life come on their own without toil. If one wants to marry a beautiful girl, or live a comfortable life, one has to work hard for it.

Stanza Nine

I don’t say, one bodies the other
One’s spiritual truth;
But I do say it’s hard to lose either,
When you have both.


The author realizes that the toads are quite separate from each other. However, they must co-exist in an individual to make up his bitter-sweet life. In other words, human life must have a component of luxury and comfort, and a component of slog, and sweat.

Questions for discussion

1. What does the poet mean by ‘Toads’?
Answer – The word ‘Toads’ has been used as  metaphor to describe the innate tendency among humans to be shirkers, indolent, and parasitical. The other ‘Toad’ exerts the opposite influence on their hosts, driving the humans towards luxury, comfort, fame, and indulgence.

2. How do the two questions with which the poem begins set the tone of the poem?
Answer – The author obviously is irked by the  control the ‘toads’ exert on his life  making it so unbearably hectic and loathsome. He questions its intrusion, and wonders if he could expel it by using his wit. The whole poem centers around human life so full of wok, and the unbearable burden it exert to cause so much suffering on him. However, he concludes that expelling the toad could bring poverty, drudgery, and want to life.

3. The thing that oppresses the poet is first called “the toad”, then “the brute” and then “it. Does this convey the poet’s progressive indifference to the creature? What else could this convey?
Answer – Yes, the more the poet thinks about the ‘toad’, the more he loathes it. So, his indifference grows as he thinks about it more and more. It also shows how innately he dislikes the creature.

4. Which stanza expresses the poet’s intense disgust? What is he disgusted with?
Answer – The second stanza expresses the poet’s intense disgust.

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison –
Just for paying a few bills!
That’s out of proportion.

He is disgusted with the idea of having to toil tirelessly for six days a week just to earn his living. He compares the robotic work culture to a poison that slowly sucks the life out of every individual.

5. Identify the stanza where alliteration is most pronounced. What purpose does it serve?
Answer – The third stanza is where alliteration is most pronounced.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
They don’t end as paupers;

It serves to present the irony of the society where individuals latch on to any opportunity available, regardless of the associated value and reputation, to earn a living.

6. What is the poet’s attitude to the people who “live on their wits?” Why does he cite their examples?
Answer – It’s one of sympathy. He cited this extreme example to drive home the point that one can still keep his pot boiling by being virtually without s job.

7. What can the poet mean by the expression “Their unspeakable wives”?
Answer – By ‘unspeakable wife’, the poet wants to underline the wretched appearance of the women.

[The remaining answers will be posted within 5 days. Bookmark this page to return later.]

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plz upload questions and answers of porm mirror 2nd year


Hiii u have not uploaded the remaining questions. It would be helpful if you do so

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