Happy Sunday Everyone!
We all think of Robert Frost as the quintessential American poet, the very expression of New England rural life. Oddly enough, he only had a handful of poems published here in the US so he went to England to try to get his poetry published there. Frost published this poem in his second book of poetry North of Boston, in 1914 when he was 39 years old. This book was published in England and was favorably reviewed by both Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas. It was this volume of poetry that brought him success and achievement and established his as a poet.
The Weekend poem to consider is ‘After Apple picking’ by Robert Frost. This is one of his best known early poems and one I hope you enjoy reading and considering.
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 shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-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 reappear,
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.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That 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.
I like this poem because it tells a simple story of a person who spent all day long picking apples and is now exhausted. At the end of the day he now wants to sleep but wonders what kind of sleep it will be. I can easily read this as an allegory of life. Working all day reflects a person who has worked all their life and now wants to sleep and rest. However, Frost was not an old man when he wrote this so I wonder if he is speaking of something else. He may be referring to working hard doing something he enjoys in life and the ‘sleep’ is resting in the accomplishment. The sleep clearly refers to rest, but is it a final rest after this life or is it rest in finding success?
What do you think? Do you like this poem? Tell me in the comments below.