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Analysis and comments on After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

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Comment 19 of 349, added on November 17th, 2005 at 2:14 PM.

When we look at this poem, it is hard not to see it in a litterary view.
The adding of heaven in the beginning show us that the apples mean one
thing: the fruit of knowledge. Now the story goes Adam and Eve picked the
fruit of knowledge and became not only aware of their nudity, but mortal.
Frost is making a reference of a scholar gathering all the knowledge he
can; in doing so he has realized that he is unable to leanr anymore than
what he has and his life is coming to an end (the reference of growing
tired). Frost is just making a direct response to the writning period
beofore modernism (realism). The key to know litterature is to know that
every period of writing is responding to and criticizing the period before
it (Romanticism responded to Neo-Classicism, and Realism to Romanticism, as
well as Modernism to Realism, and so forth). It is this key to truly know
the depth the writer is trying to get to the reader. And to let people
know, Frost does not go into detail about sex because it was not the topic
of the time. A writer that takled about sexual acts is Walt Whitman; he was
two litterary periods before Frost. Modernism is about the horrors the
world was introduce to after WWI, which, as a world, we are still
recovering from. People like Frost, Faulkner, Joyce, and Hemingway were
responding to the results of the industrial revolution and were has come
to; as well as responding to the "children lost" after WWI (WWI was a 2
mile blood bath).

KM aka Modern Writer Major from United States
Comment 18 of 349, added on November 17th, 2005 at 8:38 AM.

Read the anaalysis below to help you understand the poem. It's right! I
understand it, but it's great to read what other people comment. Anyone
could use his response as an essay.

sally from United States
Comment 17 of 349, added on November 4th, 2005 at 9:31 AM.

Comments: After Apple Picking, written in 1914. This poem describes
Robert Frost’s sleep-wake condition in which he mingles up reality with
dream. One evening while picking apples in his garden the poet felt
exhausted and fatigue led him to drowsiness. Scent of the ripe apples in
the atmosphere lost him in dream wherein he saw numerous apples of gigantic
size; the vision was so clear and his senses were so awakened as he could
not differentiate whether he visualized dream or reality. Though the poem
is confusing yet it is not too difficult to understand. The students of
literature must keep in mind the following points understand it well.
1. The poet like every owner of the garden desired a great harvest. (Of the
great harvest I myself desired.)
2. The poet almost had finished his work of apple picking. (There may be
two or three apples I did not pick upon some bough.)
3. The poet in the particular season did not have good harvest despite he
desires. He could only fill half of the barrel. (And there is a barrel I
did not fill)
4. The poem besides a psychological effect of the of the activity is also a
spiritual experience

The poem “After Apple Picking” depicts the poet’s strange experience rather
mystic vision of mixing up reality with dream. In a sleep-wake condition he
is rocked between dream and reality but he fails to understand the nature
of this sleep. He can differentiate whether it is a dream or reality. On a
certain day the poet remained, busy in his garden in picking apples all the
time from morn to eve. After the whole day's labour he felt quite
exhausted. Scent of the ripe apples exerted on him influence in the form
of drowsiness. With this intoxicating smell and fatigue the poet was
overwhelmed with sleep; therefore, he was lost in the world of dream in
which he saw the magnified apples more than ten thousand. The rumbling
sound of the apples in the store was easily audible to him. It was all too
good to be believed. The poet overjoyed at this great harvest as it was the
realization of his desire. As the poet had his produce more than
sufficient, he did not care for the apples if they were spiked or bruised.
In sweetness of his dream the poet could not forget not forget exhaustion
of his daily routine. It seemed to him that reality and dream were
intermingled into inseparable oneness. Then the poet recalled the breaking
of the glass like sheet of ice in the morning, it also refers that the thin
glassy wall that makes division between the world of reality and the world
of dream was shattered to mingle both the world into one. The poet wavered
between a sleep-wake condition. This mysterious condition lasted for quite
some time. On stepping out of the world of dream the poet himself was
baffled and could not differentiate whether his sleep was “long sleep of
death or just some human sleep.”

Like all other poems of Frost, this poem too can be read on more than one
level. Apple-picking is the symbol of the human activities in life.
Drowsiness stands for the sleep of death. The poet in this poem wants to
tell us that the world of Dream and Reality are correlated, of ten wishes
are fulfilled in dream which remain unfulfilled in the worldly, as happened
with the poet who had a great desire for the rich crop, “Of the great
harvest I myself desired” but in reality he did not have enough crop even
to fulfil his barrel, “There is a barrel I didn’t fill”. Though Robert
Frost himself comments about the poem, “it is just about the apple-picking”
yet the poem has symbolic significance. Apples represent all the goals and
deeds in his power he could achieve and the unfilled barrel represents the
poets unfulfilled deeds, drowsiness refers encroaching death, dream
indicate the state of death and the ten thousand magnified apples indicate
many times multiplied reward of the good deeds performed in the life.

Q.1. Describe the poet’s pleasant experience of apple picking.
Robert Frost, the poet has done too much of his routine work and he is now
terribly exhausted. He has cherished the hope of reaping a rich harvest of
apples, but he not has harvested sufficient produce as he desired. He could
only fill half of the container and after the activity has been completed
he becomes disgusted with his drudgery. Later on his exhaustion rocks him
into the world of dream in which he experiences a very vivid vision. In
drowsiness he can not discriminate between dream and reality. He sees
numerous apples even more than ten thousand, all of great magnitude. This
condition lasts for a certain span of time then he comes into sense; the
world of colour and taste. The poet is still so confused and baffled that
he can not decide which world is reality and which one is the world of
dream. The poet does not know the actual nature of his sleep whether his
sleep was the long sleep of the woodchuck one night-long human sleep. The
experience the poet undergoes is on the one hand is pleasant as he tastes
the pleasure of rich harvest and on the other hand it is mind baffling that
the poet finds very close relationship between dream and reality.

What does the empty barrel signify in After Apple Picking?
Robert Frost, the poet in the beginning of the poem mentions that after
apple-picking his barrel is still empty. The empty barrel literally
signifies the unfinished work but symbolically it refers to a heap of
unfulfilled desires. Although the apple-picker has been trying his utmost
to fill his barrel with the apples picked by him, yet it is still empty
because the apple tree did not bear enough fruit as the poet desired. In
other words it may be elaborated, though the poet was on the last step of
the ladder, he enjoyed himself high place in the world yet he cold not
perform enough good deeds, when death encroached barrel of his deeds was
half filled. Sleep which itself signifies death reaches the poet when his
activities were still unaccomplished, and he require some more years.
Though he fills half of the barrel yet he harvests generous reward in the
world hereafter for a few noble deeds he performed in his life in the form
ten thousand apples of great size and magnitude.
How is the world of reality and dreams mixed up in this poem?
Robert Frost, in this poem inter-mingles the world of reality and dreams.
In reality, he is picking normal apples while standing on his two pointed
ladder but, in dream, he sees apples of great size and magnitude. In sleep
he vacillates between two poles of reality and dream. The poet in fact
describes close relationship between dream and realty, life and death. The
ambitions which often remain unfulfilled in the world of reality are
realized in the world of dream. The dreamer enjoys himself with the same
tastes, colours, smells and the pleasures of touch. In reality, the poet
experiences he limited capacity of his physical labour but in dream he
observes unlimited capacity of his imagination. The poet himself becomes as
baffled and confused as it is difficult for him to suggest the solution
whether the world which we consider reality is the real world or a mere
optical illusion.

What kind of sleep does Robert Frost sleep?
While performing his work of picking apples, Robert Frost’s fatigue makes
him feel extreme drowsiness. His fatigue and scent of the apples mingle and
overpower the poet’s mind. In drowsiness he begins to see dream and he gets
the vision of magnified apples. He hears them rumbling when emptied out of
the barrels. The apple-picker has actually got tired of seeing the routine
of loading and unloading of his apples. He admits that he himself has
desired such a bumper harvest. Despite his utmost care, the apple-picker
cannot throw the apples undamaged in his barrel. Some of them fall down
from the barrel and are pricked by the stubbles. The dream is s much clear
and vivid that it becomes difficult for the apple-picker to make difference
between reality and dream. When he wakes up, he asks himself in his
astonishment what kind of sleep it is. He is too confused to know whether
it is a woodchuck’s long sleep of hibernation or a short human sleep of one
night only. He does not suggest the answer and leaves to the reader to draw
conclusion.













Muhammad Shanazar from Pakistan
Comment 16 of 349, added on November 4th, 2005 at 9:26 AM.

Comments: After Apple Picking, written in 1914. This poem describes
Robert Frost’s sleep-wake condition in which he mingles up reality with
dream. One evening while picking apples in his garden the poet felt
exhausted and fatigue led him to drowsiness. Scent of the ripe apples in
the atmosphere lost him in dream wherein he saw numerous apples of gigantic
size; the vision was so clear and his senses were so awakened as he could
not differentiate whether he visualized dream or reality. Though the poem
is confusing yet it is not too difficult to understand. The students of
literature must keep in mind the following points understand it well.
1. The poet like every owner of the garden desired a great harvest. (Of the
great harvest I myself desired.)
2. The poet almost had finished his work of apple picking. (There may be
two or three apples I did not pick upon some bough.)
3. The poet in the particular season did not have good harvest despite he
desires. He could only fill half of the barrel. (And there is a barrel I
did not fill)
4. The poem besides a psychological effect of the of the activity is also a
spiritual experience

The poem “After Apple Picking” depicts the poet’s strange experience rather
mystic vision of mixing up reality with dream. In a sleep-wake condition he
is rocked between dream and reality but he fails to understand the nature
of this sleep. He can differentiate whether it is a dream or reality. On a
certain day the poet remained, busy in his garden in picking apples all the
time from morn to eve. After the whole day's labour he felt quite
exhausted. Scent of the ripe apples exerted on him influence in the form
of drowsiness. With this intoxicating smell and fatigue the poet was
overwhelmed with sleep; therefore, he was lost in the world of dream in
which he saw the magnified apples more than ten thousand. The rumbling
sound of the apples in the store was easily audible to him. It was all too
good to be believed. The poet overjoyed at this great harvest as it was the
realization of his desire. As the poet had his produce more than
sufficient, he did not care for the apples if they were spiked or bruised.
In sweetness of his dream the poet could not forget not forget exhaustion
of his daily routine. It seemed to him that reality and dream were
intermingled into inseparable oneness. Then the poet recalled the breaking
of the glass like sheet of ice in the morning, it also refers that the thin
glassy wall that makes division between the world of reality and the world
of dream was shattered to mingle both the world into one. The poet wavered
between a sleep-wake condition. This mysterious condition lasted for quite
some time. On stepping out of the world of dream the poet himself was
baffled and could not differentiate whether his sleep was “long sleep of
death or just some human sleep.”

Like all other poems of Frost, this poem too can be read on more than one
level. Apple-picking is the symbol of the human activities in life.
Drowsiness stands for the sleep of death. The poet in this poem wants to
tell us that the world of Dream and Reality are correlated, of ten wishes
are fulfilled in dream which remain unfulfilled in the worldly, as happened
with the poet who had a great desire for the rich crop, “Of the great
harvest I myself desired” but in reality he did not have enough crop even
to fulfil his barrel, “There is a barrel I didn’t fill”. Though Robert
Frost himself comments about the poem, “it is just about the apple-picking”
yet the poem has symbolic significance. Apples represent all the goals and
deeds in his power he could achieve and the unfilled barrel represents the
poets unfulfilled deeds, drowsiness refers encroaching death, dream
indicate the state of death and the ten thousand magnified apples indicate
many times multiplied reward of the good deeds performed in the life.

Q.1. Describe the poet’s pleasant experience of apple picking.
Robert Frost, the poet has done too much of his routine work and he is now
terribly exhausted. He has cherished the hope of reaping a rich harvest of
apples, but he not has harvested sufficient produce as he desired. He could
only fill half of the container and after the activity has been completed
he becomes disgusted with his drudgery. Later on his exhaustion rocks him
into the world of dream in which he experiences a very vivid vision. In
drowsiness he can not discriminate between dream and reality. He sees
numerous apples even more than ten thousand, all of great magnitude. This
condition lasts for a certain span of time then he comes into sense; the
world of colour and taste. The poet is still so confused and baffled that
he can not decide which world is reality and which one is the world of
dream. The poet does not know the actual nature of his sleep whether his
sleep was the long sleep of the woodchuck one night-long human sleep. The
experience the poet undergoes is on the one hand is pleasant as he tastes
the pleasure of rich harvest and on the other hand it is mind baffling that
the poet finds very close relationship between dream and reality.

What does the empty barrel signify in After Apple Picking?
Robert Frost, the poet in the beginning of the poem mentions that after
apple-picking his barrel is still empty. The empty barrel literally
signifies the unfinished work but symbolically it refers to a heap of
unfulfilled desires. Although the apple-picker has been trying his utmost
to fill his barrel with the apples picked by him, yet it is still empty
because the apple tree did not bear enough fruit as the poet desired. In
other words it may be elaborated, though the poet was on the last step of
the ladder, he enjoyed himself high place in the world yet he cold not
perform enough good deeds, when death encroached barrel of his deeds was
half filled. Sleep which itself signifies death reaches the poet when his
activities were still unaccomplished, and he require some more years.
Though he fills half of the barrel yet he harvests generous reward in the
world hereafter for a few noble deeds he performed in his life in the form
ten thousand apples of great size and magnitude.
How is the world of reality and dreams mixed up in this poem?
Robert Frost, in this poem inter-mingles the world of reality and dreams.
In reality, he is picking normal apples while standing on his two pointed
ladder but, in dream, he sees apples of great size and magnitude. In sleep
he vacillates between two poles of reality and dream. The poet in fact
describes close relationship between dream and realty, life and death. The
ambitions which often remain unfulfilled in the world of reality are
realized in the world of dream. The dreamer enjoys himself with the same
tastes, colours, smells and the pleasures of touch. In reality, the poet
experiences he limited capacity of his physical labour but in dream he
observes unlimited capacity of his imagination. The poet himself becomes as
baffled and confused as it is difficult for him to suggest the solution
whether the world which we consider reality is the real world or a mere
optical illusion.

What kind of sleep does Robert Frost sleep?
While performing his work of picking apples, Robert Frost’s fatigue makes
him feel extreme drowsiness. His fatigue and scent of the apples mingle and
overpower the poet’s mind. In drowsiness he begins to see dream and he gets
the vision of magnified apples. He hears them rumbling when emptied out of
the barrels. The apple-picker has actually got tired of seeing the routine
of loading and unloading of his apples. He admits that he himself has
desired such a bumper harvest. Despite his utmost care, the apple-picker
cannot throw the apples undamaged in his barrel. Some of them fall down
from the barrel and are pricked by the stubbles. The dream is s much clear
and vivid that it becomes difficult for the apple-picker to make difference
between reality and dream. When he wakes up, he asks himself in his
astonishment what kind of sleep it is. He is too confused to know whether
it is a woodchuck’s long sleep of hibernation or a short human sleep of one
night only. He does not suggest the answer and leaves to the reader to draw
conclusion.













Muhammad Shanazar from Pakistan
Comment 15 of 349, added on November 1st, 2005 at 8:33 PM.

This poem is so confusing...I can't tell weather he likes or dislikes his
job/life...he needs to be more specific about these things.

jeanette from United States
Comment 14 of 349, added on October 28th, 2005 at 4:11 AM.

It is about the Robert Frost poem entitled After Apple Picking that I am
right and the whole world is wrong. I have tried in vain to have my essay
regarding that poem published but no one appreciates my analysis, so I
stand alone in that regard and must do it myself. In order to build upon
the notion that the poem is laced with sexual depth and filled with lust, I
have written an extensive essay. I welcome replies with regard my thoughts
on the matter but in so doing please respect the bounds of intellectual
decency. Please be advised that my essay is adult literature. Go to
http://whendarknessfell.tripod.com/ Cheers, J.T. Best

J.T. Best from Australia
Comment 13 of 349, added on October 27th, 2005 at 2:48 PM.

Firstly, you need to back up your points; how do you know he loved his
life? His father died when he was eleven, his first attempts to establish
himself as a poet failed because his poems were rejected. His wife died in
1938. Two of his daughters suffered mental breakdowns and his son committed
suicide...yeah, theres a lot to love about that.

He's an intellect who probably spends days creating these master pieces and
that doesn't mean he 'loves' his life...or that his success should somehow
cancel out a miserable past.

Where abouts in the poem does it relate to 'religious symbolism'?. What you
have depicted from this poem is inacurate and pointless- (literally!) ...do
your research, you are soooooooo wrong. x bless, you tried your best...lol

sally from United States
Comment 12 of 349, added on October 26th, 2005 at 12:40 PM.

I have to say that I have only read a few of Frost's poems but I find that
they are relating to life really well. I have to study 26 of his poems as
part of my English course and I already have a favourite, A Servant of
Servants. But I still have 21 more to read. Any hints on critcal notes
would be a great help! Thanks

Cathy from United Kingdom
Comment 11 of 349, added on October 25th, 2005 at 11:24 PM.

oh man... theres so much to be said for this poem... the ladder pointing
towards heaven is a displacement from the literal into the surreal world of
imagery. I think his place upon the ladder represents God and the apples he
picks are good people and the apples that fall go to hell, or the "cider
heap." As he retires from this job for good he gives into the woods and
welcomes a long sleep. PEOPLE VIEW THIS POEM AS BEING TOTALLY ABOUT DEATH.
U ARE MISSING THE WHOLE ASPECT OF HOW HE LOVED HIS LIFE AND POSSIBLE
RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM.

Will from United States
Comment 10 of 349, added on October 25th, 2005 at 12:20 PM.

Hi, i am just wondering if anyone has any notes on Robert Frost's 'After
Apple-Picking' as i have to write an essay based on the question.....'frost
likes to trip readers up, why does he not give ansers in his poems?' any
help would be greatly appreciated! Many thanks

steph from United Kingdom

This poem has been commented on more than 10 times. Click below to see the other comments.
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Information about After Apple-Picking

Poet: Robert Frost
Poem: 4. After Apple-Picking
Volume: North of Boston
Year: 1914
Added: Feb 1 2004
Viewed: 855 times
Poem of the Day: Apr 26 2003


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