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After Apple Picking

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Duke333
Words 717
Pages 3
RP #6
After Apple-Picking Robert Frost’s “After Apple Picking”, is a rather complex poem where motifs or sleep and death are used to characterize the speaker. The speaker of this poem is an old man, who has picked apples for a large portion of his life. He is exhausted due to the manual labor is life has contained, and he identifies death with sleep, as he begins to get ready for death. In the first two lines of the poem, a religious overtone is presented, “My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree, toward heaven still” (1-2). This may make the reader think of the biblical story of Jacob’s ladder, in which he dreams on a ladder that the angels climb up to heaven. This shows how the speaker is ready for death, and ready for the afterlife. Later on in the poem we learn of the setting of the poem as the speaker tells us, “Essence of winter sleep is on the night, the scent of apples: I am drowsing off” (7-8). It is nighttime, and the speaker is very tired, as he begins to drowse off into the night. Either it is winter, or winter is approaching, which would lead to the end of apple picking season. Through the next few lines he describes how he is looking at his apple trees through a piece of ice, saying, “looking through a pane of glass, I skimmed this morning for the drinking trough, and held against the world of hoary grass. It melted, and I let if fall and break” (10-13). He is using ice to show how winter is changing the way he perceives things, and how winter represents an unwelcoming time. The next four lines are rather odd and confusing to interpret. The speaker begins to talk as if the last few lines referring to the ice were part of a dream, saying, “Upon my way to sleep before it fell, and I could tell, What form my dreaming was about to take” (15-17). It now appears as he is on his bed, and had woken suddenly from his dream, and now begins to wonder what is dream was truly going to be about. The next lines go on to detail his dream, which mostly focuses on the aspects of apple picking. Eventually we learn that the speaker has become sick and tired of picking apples, and what was once something that excited him, has now become something rather tiresome. The speaker says, “For I have too much of apple picking: I am overtired of the great harvest I myself desired” (27-29). He makes it clear that he is ready to be done with apple picking and no longer finds it enjoyable. As the poem begins to draw to a close, the speaker now begins to wonder if this sleep that is coming will be the normal sleep of a man, or if it will be a deep winter sleep, which is death. He says, “Whatever sleep it is. Were he not gone, the woodchuck could say whether it’s like his long sleep…Or just some human sleep” (38-42). Here the speaker contemplates what time of sleep he will have. Whether it will be that of the woodchuck, who has a long hibernation over the winter months, or just a normal human sleep. Obviously humans do not hibernate, so the long wintery sleep refers to death, and it almost sounds like the speaker would be disappointed with “just” human sleep. The speaker of this poem is clearly an older man who has worked at picking apples his whole live, and is growing rather tired of the meticulous task. It is not truly clear who he is speaking too, but it seems as he is talking to himself. All of this seems to be taking place in his mind, as he wonders to himself would lays ahead for him. The situation is that winter is approaching, which causes the end of apple picking season, and the speaker begins to wonder whether this is his last season. He does not know whether the sleep that awaits him will be an eternal sleep, or just a brief sleep where he will be back to work in the spring.

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