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Death of a Toad by Richard Wilbur - Book Report/Review Example

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The poem, Death of a Toad, was written by Richard Wilbur in the 1950. It describes a toad who is caught in a mower and it dies. This poem about a toad is deliberately ornate. (Bercovitch 58). One has to read in between the lines to derive at the latent meaning…
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Death of a Toad by Richard Wilbur
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Download file to see previous pages But Wilbur is not so aloof as he seems, and surely not politically complacent.' (Bercovitch 58). This essay attempts the explore the implications suggested in the poem.
is a symbolism of how Man, with his artificial machines, is a danger to Nature. The powerful, cold killer makes Man oblivious to the consequences of his deed. As indeed, Man is unaware of the damage caused by the mower. The poem leaves out the mention of Man, who handles the mower. This makes it all the more poignant. The ruthless injury of maiming contrasts with the toad's dignity of hopping to a secluded spot to pass its remaining time in peace and privacy. Even if the toad has no capacity to know about its impending death, its natural reaction is to escape from the aggressor. Its nervous system must have registered pain with its massive injury and loss of amphibian blood but it struggled on 'with a hobbling hop' to get away. Life is precious when a critically wounded living thing of a low life form struggles to safety. The reader is reminded of how senseless a higher life form can commit the suicide act while this poor toad struggles to reach cover. The verge offers camouflage against further molestation against its body. The poem suggests the natural sanctuary as a reproach against the violation against Nature. The cineraria leaves are ashen because they lack nourishment. This combination of pale color with the heart shape of the cineraria leaves create symbolism of the heartfelt sobriety of the toad's dying moments. When the light of life is extinguishing, it is dim. This is a symbolic allegory to the dying life. The 'final glade' is its grave which it chooses for itself. The toad is now in a transcendental stage. The phrases; 'in a dim, / Low, and a final glade' describe this stage where it hovers in between life and death.
The toad's fatal injury is described in a sterile manner because Wilbur was subconsciously influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and he revised his poem with the objective of erasing Poe's influence. (Wilbur 89). Thus, Wilbur uses symbolism to convey the mortality of the toad without the use of morbid, fatalistic, gruesome vocabulary and literary tools that Poe uses. The poem evokes the tranquil resignation to the destiny and fate of life. All life ends in death. The toad, born of nature, returns to Nature quietly. Poe describes elaborate, tragic and macabre deaths. Thus Poe and Wilbur contrast in writing styles. Michelson says that Wilbur does not use words that invoke disorder because; 'Order, chaos, success, failure - none of these words has worked well to describe the status of modern verse, and this array of poems about poetic art suggests its anomalous, plasmic nature, its state between states, neither deception nor truth, neither empty puzzle nor inspired art.' (Michelson 152). Wilbur prefers evoking symbolism to allude to the themes in the poem.
The toad in its dying stage is in the transcendental stage. Wilbur is saying that all living things are born into the transcendental stage leading to death. The encounter with mortality only forces an earlier retirement to face imminent death in seclusion. The life of the toad that is taken suddenly is the 'rare original heartsbleed' that is written in the second verse's first ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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