Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I've been thinking about Philip Larkin's poem "Toads" this week, because the toad called work is squatting on my life.

I am engaged in an endeavor that will either make my work life a lot better, or get me out of this line of work entirely (so I'm also thinking of Iago saying  "this is the night that either makes me, or fordoes me quite").

Here is Larkin's poem:

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 folks live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts--
they don't end as paupers;

Lots of folks 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 whippets--and 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.

Even a 1/6-time job can be hard to lose.  So I'm hunkering down.


Jenners said...

This is so close to how I felt about work when I had a "real" job (one that paid). Love it!

Jenny said...

I am keeping my fingers crossed for your endeavor, whatever it is!

kittiesx3 said...

" it's hard to lose either,
When you have both."

So true.

You've been on my mind lately; guess now I know why.

FreshHell said...

Sigh. Yes indeed. I hope things work out in your favor!

Anonymous said...

also fingers crossed

Jeanne said...

Jenners, I have two paying jobs right now and am trying to expand the long-term one into more of what it should be. I think taking care of a little one should often be classified as living on one's wits!

Jenny, thanks! The endeavor is launched and went about as well as I could have asked. Now we'll see what comes of it.

Elizabeth, I might have at least turned the 1/6 into half time!

FreshHell, right now I feel like "in my favor" means anything but the status quo. Things just can't go on like they have been. So whatever happens, okay!

ReadersGuide, you have a bit of a stake in this, at least potentially. Everyone sounds hopeful. And the nicest thing about this week is that I felt like I had some colleagues on campus, some real allies!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Good poem, and I hope things with work are going well (fingers crossed with Jenny!).

Jeanne said...

Kim, things at work have been pretty much the same since 1993. I'm trying to shake things up a bit. Thanks for the good wishes!

Jodie said...

I really hope your work situation can be sorted out. It's true most of us just don't have it in us to blarney and envy those who do (wouldn't I kill to be Colin Farrell sometimes). Maybe though their blarney is all falseness and shields, just shinier ones than the defensive weapons we've got.

Oh dear well that was trrbly depressing wasn't it? Good luck anyway!

Jeanne said...

Jodie, I know what you mean; those of us who are better at writing than talking often wish we were better extempore. Sometimes I know I said something that came out sounding ridiculous at a critical moment, but this time I didn't have that feeling, so I'll hope for the best! (expect the worst...)