Larkin uses the metaphor of a toad to stand for something dark, heavy and oppressive that dominated one's life in an unwelcome way and could not be shaken off. The need to work for a living, together with the duties and responsibilities thus entailed, was one such toad, but allied to it was the poet's mental state that required him to remain discontented with life as this was his inspiration to be creative.
“Toads Revisited” comprises nine four-line stanzas in which Larkin makes extensive use of half-rhymes that have the effect of suggesting connections between concepts but without lending any certainty to the links. On the two occasions when a full rhyme is used the contrast is striking enough to make the reader take notice.
In “Toads Revisited”, Larkin has escaped from his desk, possibly during his lunch break, and is “Walking around in the park” on a sunny day which, as he says, “Should feel better than work”. However, as one of the only two rhymed couplets in the poem makes clear, this is: “Not a bad place to be. Yet it doesn't suit me.” Walking around the park should feel better than work, but obviously, we suspect that it won't. The park that he's walking around, there's a lake there, it's a nice sunny day, and there's the grass to lie on. So, he's not specifically selected a very unpleasant park on a very unpleasant day. There is grass, it's a nice sun-shiny day, and he's by a lake. For a man who despises his job as much as Larkin tells us he does, this should be a nice day out.
And of course, we, the reader, question, ‘Well, if your job is so awful, as you've told us before, what's wrong with the day out in the park?' This is what is wrong with “Being one of the men You meet of an afternoon?” Larkin doesn't want to be the type of man who frequent the park on an afternoon. He is, on this day, one of them. And he looks around at the other people who are in the park on this afternoon, and he gives us a list of them. The first is: Palsied old step takers. Now, 'palsied' means affected with involuntary tremors. So, you can imagine the old guys who are perhaps with their Zimmer frames and they're out for a walk in the park, shaking. Larkin sees them there. 'Palsied old step-takers', the sort of older people for whom each step is an effort. Larkin doesn't want to be considered one of those.
What doesn't suit Larkin is being the same as the other people he can see in the park who are: “All dodging the toad work / By being stupid or weak”. In “Toads”, Larkin had listed various categories of non-workers, in a tone of amused admiration, as people who lived on their wits and who might thus be envied. However, when he now says (and repeats) “Think of being them”, in referring to the down-and-outs who are “Turning over their failures / By some bed of lobelias”, he does so out of pity rather than envy.
There are also the ‘hare-eyed’ clerks in constant uncertainty regarding their financial stability and regarding everything with an air of insecurity....