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Frost Commentary: “After Apple-Picking” Evidence Commentary

Alicia Wei

7. In what sense does the poem reach a conclusion? The poem begins with a sense of hope. The readers are not yet aware that the speaker is tired from the apple picking and wants to give up yet. The speaker seems to still have hope through the description of the ladder still pointing towards the skies. From the beginning of the poem until now, the speaker seems to take a major turn. Now he views the world heavily, as if there were no hope anymore. His current predicament seems to be brought on by himself. It seems as if the speaker’s life is coming to an end, both literally and figuratively. Around this time, the apples, which seem to represent the speaker’s dreams, have fallen to the ground unpicked. This emphasizes the speaker’s unchecked goals for himself that causes his own downfall. By the conclusion of the poem, the reader has developed a strong sense of foreboding for the speaker. At the first mention of “sleep,” one has to wonder whether or not the speaker is referring to death. On top of the troubles that the speaker has been going through, the reader has to assume that he is tired of everything, and just wants to rest. This leaves the ending of the poem extremely ambiguously.

“My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree/ Toward heaven still” (1-2)

“And held agains the world of hoary grass./ It melted, and I let it fall and break” (12-13)

“One can see what will trouble/ This sleep of mine” (37-38)

11. What effect does the title have on your understanding of the poem? The title is significant in laying the grounds for the understanding of the poem. The title suggests that it is now after the harvest, meaning that (if he were successful) everyone will be tired and exhausted. Figuratively, this suggests the aftermath of a great event within the speaker’s life.

“After Apple-Picking” (title)

Frost Commentary: “After Apple-Picking”

Alicia Wei

“And there may be two or three/ Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough” (4-5)

The first glimpse we get of the speaker’s fatigue is through the first couple of lines. The repetition of apples there suggests that the apples have a far greater meaning to the speaker. The first scene of imagery is immediately tied to the title. The title suggests that it is after the harvest, and following that, the first scene s what we expect to see after a harvest. In a sense, the title prepares us for a very dreary scene.

Towards the conclusion of the poem, the speaker seems to be tired of his dreams (the apples), and wants to quit. The title then plays “Of apple-picking: I am overtired/ Of the great a role in our expectancy of this occurring harvest I myself desired” (28-29) because it is one of the possible scenarios upon reading the title. One tends to get tired of something they love when they have exerted all their energy for it. How do language, imagery, and structure contribute to the poem’s mood? The diction and imagery used here seems to describe the speaker’s weariness of life. The speaker cannot just ignore the weariness of life and this causes him to thin about the things he “I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight/ I missed and the chances he did not take in life got from looking through a pane of because of his uncontrolled ambition. This glass” (9-10) then ties back into the futility of his life and the constant cycle of hopes and dreams with the downfall of reality. By this point in the poem, the mood is extremely glum.

Frost Commentary: “After Apple-Picking”

Alicia Wei

“And I keep hearing from the cellar bin/ That rumbling sound” (24-25)

The speaker hears, feels, sees, and smells because these are all the things he experiences that furthers his idea of the futility of life. We only work our hardest, to die later without anything to bring. This use of language adds to the overall poem’s mood of curiosity. Upon hearing the rumbling sound, the reader has to wonder what it is from. Also, this furthers the extremely glum mood of the poem because the far off rumbling represents that the speaker is reminiscing about the opportunities that have passed him by and that he will never be able to change it except to dwell on the fact that he never took advantage of it. A hyperbole is used here to show that there is an overwhelming amount of apples. The constant repetition of apples suggests that it is a symbols of hopes, dreams, and opportunities that one has in life. This furthers the tone of the poem because it helps the reader visualize the disparity of the speaker in not realizing his life’s apples (hopes, dreams, and opportunities) because he ended up not getting as many apples as he wanted and the ones he let fall were the opportunities he missed. Imagery is used here to show that the speaker is now tired of his dreams, or his apples, but continues to feel a connection to it, keeping the hope for his apples pointed upwards where there is still hope. The ache that the speaker feels from exhaustion adds to the overall hopeless mood of the poem.

“There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch” (30)

“My instep arch not only keeps the ache,/ It keeps that pressure of the ladderround” (21-22)

What symbols in the poem contribute to overall meaning?

Frost Commentary: “After Apple-Picking”

Alicia Wei

“For all/ that struck earth” (31-32)

The speaker’s apples that hit the earth represents his sin and earthly corruption. The are treated with no worth, similar to how Adam and Eve were treated after they fell to earth upon tasting the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. The apples symbolize the speaker’s dreams and ambitions in life, which further explains the hopeless mood of the poem when the speaker is unable to realize them. The speaker’s uncontrollable desire to sleep symbolizes the weariness that life causes us. Life ultimately wears the best of us down to the bone, leading us to earn for sleep and peace. The then contributes to the overall meaning of the poem because now the speaker doesn’t seem like a quitter, rather one who has been worn down bye the harshness of life, leading to more sympathy for him. The harvest symbolizes the greed of the speaker. The speaker originally wanted much out of life, out of his apples, but notice how the speaker now refers to the great harvest in past tense. This represents that the speaker now realizes that his great harvest is a futile attempt. Now that he is worn down by his great desire for more apples, or for a great harvest, the speaker no longer desires the harvest. This then ties into the overall meaning of the poem through the futility of life that the harvest seems to instill on the speaker himself.

“Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,/Or just some human sleep” (41-42)

“Of the great harvest I myself desired” (29)