In "Death of a Toad" by Richard Wilbur, formal elements are used to help convey the speaker's attitude toward the death of a toad. Structure, syntax, diction and imagery are used to reveal the speakers feelings. The poem essentially talks about the silent death of the frog. How the frog gets injured by a machine of man and dies unnoticed. The toad's death also symbolizes nature in a whole. Since like the toad, nature is being hurt by human kind and is not noticed.
The choice of words in the first stanza has a special meaning. "A toad the power mower caught, Chewed and clipped of a leg, with a hobbling hop has got" expresses a lack of peace and reinforces the feeling of injury to the toad. The speaker gives a visual image of the surroundings which the toad has fallen in lines three and four. The speaker also does not ease the way that he/she tells the reader that the toad was caught by a power motor. The speaker is very direct and blunt when he/she expresses the toad's circumstance in the first line which conveys a feeling of less consequence.
The second stanza talks about how the toad lies, waiting to die. In lines 11 and 12, the speaker says that the toad is listening to some monotone which conveys a feeling that the toad has some sort of consciousness of what is going on. This aspect seems to give the toad some sympathy and makes the death seem as if it is more of a loss. .
The final stanza talks about the final moments of the dying toad. The speaker talks about misted and ebullient seas, cooling shores, and Amphibia's empires because this is what the toad is dreaming of. The day passes and the toad is about to die. The speaker of how small the death of the toad is when he/she talks about the eyes watching across the castrate lawn. No one has noticed the death of the toad. Only the toad knows what has happened. As in the first stanza, this reinforces the fact that man does not always notice how he affects nature.