After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost
The poem After Apple Picking by Robert Frost tells the story in a day of someone picking apples. The speaker is tired of picking apples and he is feeling drowsy; he however cannot tell whether he is feeling the normal sleep or whether it is something else like winter sleep. It is a combination of both long and short lines and it rhymes. Words such as still and fill, bough and now, night and sight, well and fell, end and bend among others rhyme at the end of the lines. On closer analysis, the reader realizes that the poem is not all about picking poems but there is a deeper meaning attached to it. The title is metaphoric, which can be taken as describing how the speaker views his life. The apples are a symbol of his life experiences; they represent what he has gone through in life, and the chances he may have missed in life. Since this is a harvesting time, the poem could mean that the speaker has come to recollect his experiences. Frost uses several metaphors to show this deeper meaning.
The speaker looks at a day’s work of picking apples and he seems to regret that he was not able to fill a barrel. He also sees some apples that he did not pick but he states that he is done picking the apples, meaning that he will not go back to do what he has been doing. Even as the speaker is drowsing off, he cannot seem to get apples from his mind. He smells them and he sees magnified apples, which appear and disappear. The speaker reflects upon his life in this poem. Some of the experiences that he has had are clear to him at that time but others are not so clear. He has lived for a long time. He says that he has cannot get over the strange sight that he saw while he was looking through the drinking trough. This could mean that he saw his reflection in the water and he saw the world of silvery grass, which thawed out. He was shocked to see how old he had become with age.
The magnified apples that he sees appearing and disappearing are a metaphor showing the chances and opportunities he has had in life. He seized some of these opportunities while he let others go. He says that there were so many fruits to touch of which he managed to keep some and some fell on the earth and went to the cider apple heap. He cherishes the opportunities that he seized in life but he realizes that he cannot go on regretting. The winter sleep is a metaphor, which is used to show death. He distinguishes this long sleep with the human sleep, meaning that he does not only envision the normal sleep where he will dream and wake up but he is also considering death. The speaker is tired of picking apples, meaning that he is tired of life and is ready to rest. He had already seen his long sleep as he says in the last lines, “the woodchuck could say whether it’s like his long sleep, as I describe its coming on.”
Robert Frost has used a normal and common activity such as harvesting to tell a deeper meaning of the speaker’s life. Like any other harvest, some fruits are bad and deserve to be thrown away while others are of good quality. Some of the fruits are bruised during harvesting and they are thrown away with the bad. The speaker may have experienced some goodness in his life. He may have led a productive life in the past and he dearly cherishes these moments. Some of the experiences may not have been so good and he prefers to forget these ones or to place them with the bad experiences. He says, “For all that struck the earth, no matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble, went surely to the cider apple heap, as of no worth.” Robert Frost has used symbols, metaphors and tone to bring out the theme of death in this poem.
Frost, Robert. “After Apple-Picking.” North of Boston. Fairfield, IA: 1st World Publishing, 2004. Print