The Death of a Toad

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Many people are outside on a hot, summers’ day mowing their lawns. Most people at some point in their lifetime have hit or run over something living. In the poem “The Death of a Toad” by Richard Wilbur, the speaker tells his experience of hitting a toad with the “power mower”. Through the rhyme scheme, rhythmic pattern, sound techniques, and figures of speech, the poet reveals how the toad suffers by the harm the speaker inflicts on the toad.

The poet arranges the poem in three stanzas of six lines. Throughout the lines the poet’s rhyme scheme is AABCBC. The three stanzas reveal the speaker’s emotional response to taking the toad’s life. Stanza one illustrates how the toad gets caught in the mower. The toad tried to find sanctuary “Under the cineraria leaves, in the shade.” The speaker describes how the toad finds his final resting place. Stanza two portrays the toad’s death. The toad’s blood is draining out of him back into the earth. The toad is helpless, lying still and quietly, knowing that death is here. The final stanza expresses how the toad’s spirit releases itself to the toads’ version of heaven. While on earth, the day continues to go on through the dead eyes of the toad. The disruption of the toads’ life is shown through the three stanzas, the way the lines are indented, and use of feminine rhyme such as “caught” and “got.” The feminine rhyme makes the rhyme scheme unnatural.

The syllables of the stanzas began with eight syllables and end with six, but the rest has inconsistent syllables. The poem has a loose iambic pattern with a metrical pattern of 465543. The following example shows iambic tetrameter: “A toad the power mower caught.” The poet uses enjambment as shown in stanza one:

Chewed and clipped of a leg, with a hobbling hop has got
To the garden verge, and sanctuaried him
Under the cineraria leaves, in the shade
Of the ashen heartshaped leaves, in a dim,

The commas in the middle of the lines also show an example of...
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