Philip Larkin

Toads Revisited

Walking around in the park Should feel better than work: The lake, the sunshine, The grass to lie on, Blurred playground noises Beyond black-stockinged nurses - Not a bad place to be. Yet it doesn't suit me. Being one of the men You meet of an afternoon: Palsied old step-takers, Hare-eyed clerks with the jitters, Waxed-fleshed out-patients Still vague from accidents, And characters in long coats Deep in the litter-baskets - All dodging the toad work By being stupid or weak. Think of being them! Hearing the hours chime, Watching the bread delivered, The sun by clouds covered, The children going home; Think of being them, Turning over their failures By some bed of lobelias, Nowhere to go but indoors, Nor friends but empty chairs - No, give me my in-tray, My loaf-haired secretary, My shall-I-keep-the-call-in-Sir: What else can I answer, When the lights come on at four At the end of another year? Give me your arm, old toad; Help me down Cemetery Road.

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