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As the resident poet at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of global pandemics. At LMU Munich's Amerika-Institut, where I tutor composition and poetics, I'm anatomizing the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation. I also teach at Münchner Volkshochschule and Amerikahaus.

20160419

Toads

by Philip Larkin


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?
Six days of the week it soils
          With its sickening poison
Just for paying a few bills!
          That's out of proportion.
Lots of folk live on their wits:
          Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts
          They don't end as paupers;
Lots of folk live up lanes
          With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines
          They seem to like it.
Their nippers have got bare feet,
          Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippetsand yet
          No one actually starves.
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:
For something sufficiently toad-like
          Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
          And cold as snow,
And will never allow me to blarney
          My way to getting
The fame and the girl and the money
          All at one sitting.
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.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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