Study Guide

Toads Stanza 4

By Philip Larkin

Stanza 4

Lines 13-16

Lots of folk live up lanes
      With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines—
      They seem to like it.

  • Stanza 4 gives us more of the same: examples of people living by their wits, avoiding work.
  • This time, the speaker focuses on that happy, carefree bunch: the rural poor and the homeless. (Yes, we're being sarcastic.)
  • The "folk" in this example live "up lanes." In this context, "lanes" are small roads or pathways. We're not talking big, tree-lined Main Street here; these little lanes are the complete opposite.
  • Perhaps some of these folk are even homeless, heating themselves in front of fires in buckets (we do not recommend this heating method), eating fruit knocked out of trees by the wind, and the occasional can of sardines (bet your school lunch is starting to look pretty good right about now).
  • What's more, the speaker suggests that these people "seem to like" living this way. True, they are free from the traditional 9 to 5 work grind (no stinky toad here), but this is a pretty idealized, romanticized view of poverty.

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