The Death of a Toad

Topics: Human, Wildlife, Meaning of life Pages: 6 (1074 words) Published: December 18, 2005
Humans Vs Mother Nature

"The Death of the Toad" spoke volumes to me the first time I read it. The general feeling

and motivation behind this poem seemed well put together and almost simple for one to

comprehend. Richard Wilbur writes this poem about a supposed toad being caught in a mower,

"A toad the power mower caught"(1). However, I believe that the writer uses the toad as a sort of

synecdoche for wild life in general and uses the "power mower" to represent humans and also

machinery. The writer uses these two metaphors in his poem to represent the struggle between

wildlife and the devastation being brought upon them by the human race. The writer is using the

toad and the power mower as tools to describe a bigger picture; the destruction of many wild life

habitats and Eco-systems by humans.

Right from the very first sentence, Richard Wilbur gets across his point. He tells one of

the tragedy that has occurred, "A toad the power mower has caught."(1) He uses the word

"power" to describe the machine to show you how it is mightier than the toad. He tells you of a

struggle between animal and machine. In the very next line he tells you who the victor was

"Chewed and clipped off a leg."(2) The "toad" (meaning wild life) has been dealt a great blow by

the machine. He then tells you about the "toad" hobbling to the "garden verge," to me this

describes the "toad hobbling towards its habitat (nature). The writer describes how the "toad"

uses nature as its sanctuary "and sanctuaried him/ Under the cineraria leaves, in the shade."(4)

He tells you of "heartshaped leaves,"(5) which describe the love of Mother Nature and its caring

abilities for wildlife. The writer uses the toad's retreat into the leaves as a metaphor for nature

taking care of its own. The toad, now in its weakened state, uses the leaves (nature) as its

sanctuary. This also describes how the human machinery is driving wildlife further away "with a

hobbling hop has got/ To the garden verge."(3)

The writer describes how all of this is being watched "In the gutters of the banked and

staring eyes. He lies."(9) I believe the writer chose to use the word "banked" eyes to bring out a

sense of money being involved. Almost like he's describing that the people watching this tragedy

happening have dollar signs blurring their vision. After all, the whole reason that wildlife is

being destroyed is to make millions upon millions of dollars for the human race. The writer

describes the blood of the animal being caused by the eyes watching these tragic turn of events:

"The rare original heartsblood goes,/ Spends on the earthen hide, in the folds and

wizenings, flows/ In gutters of the banked and starring eyes."(9)

The writer uses the blood to describe the deaths caused by these watching eyes. He tells the

reader that the deaths of not only the animal, but its habitat lay in the "gutters" of the people's

eyes who are causing the destruction. I believe the writer also uses the human eye as a path to

their soul and mind. Therefore he means that the people that are in control of this destruction

have the blood of all the animals, and their habitats, on their conscience and hands.

The writer writes about how the Mother Nature deals with the loss of its creatures. How it

is sad at the death of the "toad," "And soundlessly attending, dies / Toward some deep

monotone."(12) The way the writer describes sound in these lines is very interesting to me as a

reader. The toad dies "soundlessly," as if it accepts its fate. However, Mother Nature (the habitat

or rainforest) almost mourns the "toad's" life. The "deep monotone"(12) describes pain and

sorrow. It describes the feeling of the pain and sorrow felt for the loss of one of its own. Richard

Wilbur also describes how wildlife and its habitat are being pushed away further and further...

Cited: Wilbur, Richard. "The Death of a Toad." Literature: Approaches to Fictioin,
Poetry, and Drama. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 827 – 828.
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