When I first read Robert Frost’s poem “after apple picking”, I was left with mixed emotions.
I heard this poem during a poetry recital by middle school students, with every word and sentence filled with emotion and bringing tears to my eyes! The thought about what life is all about came naturally…! I decided read the poem when I got back home and of all the poems I heard that day, this one somehow struck a chord.
For those who have not read the poem, sharing it below…
Robert Frost’s poem – After apple picking
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
Frost’s poem focuses on someone who’s exhausted after a long day’s work in an apple orchard. Drifting between wakefulness and sleep, the poem’s speaker replays the day’s events while feeling anxious about all the apples left unpicked.
While I could relate it to someone who has had a long day at work, I could also relate it to someone who was old and was counting the missed opportunities and learning to let go. I could also relate the woodchucks to the people around who keep reminding us about the reality of life! When I tried to replace the word apple with – work – it seemed to fit perfectly!!! I tried to replace it with dreams, and yet again it fit perfectly. Okay, now I tried to see if it is the pending to-do-lists and running out of time that everyone faces.. yes.. perfect fit! I kept re-reading this poem and realized that every time I read it, it presented me with a new meaning that I could relate to.
Amazed at the poet’s ability to choose his words in a way that relates to so many people across facets of life, I bow down to Robert Frost.. his poems are and have always been an inspiration! They make the reader connect the words to their thoughts and realities of life, and in a way ponder about them in an effortless manner!
If you are unable to understand the poem, listen to someone reciting it.. it makes a difference! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3QiCBL9pLM
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