Term Paper: Death in Robert Frost's Poems

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[. . .] After Apple-Picking," meanwhile, is a though-provoking poem about death, and fear of it because an individual hasn't yet 'accomplished' his plans and dreams in life. The poem uses symbolism and imagery in order to illustrate the man's dream, his fears and thoughts about his life, and his probable and impending death. Symbols used in the poem are the apples as an equivalent to the man's dreams and goals in life, and sleep as death. Lines in the poem shows that the man is anticipating his death, and he is somewhat regretting the life he had led because as he said, "...there's a barrel that I didn't fill..." which is a symbol for his unaccomplished dreams in life. When he said, "I am done with apple-picking now," the man tells us that he is tired, and prepared for his death. Thus, the man goes asleep, and in his sleep, a dream develops, wherein his thoughts and feelings about death and life are again revealed. "Magnified apples appear and disappear... And I keep hearing from the cellar bin / The rumbling sound / Of load on load of apples coming in." These lines show how the man had lived his life: his life had been a combination of dreams realized and unrealized, as represented by the magnified apples appearing/disappearing, and that the loads of apples coming his way and the rumbling sound shows the pressure he had felt trying to achieve his dreams and goals in life. "For I have too much / Of apple picking: I am overtired" shows his willingness to die; "Of the great harvest I myself desired" and his overachieving character had brought him only suffering instead of happiness. Death is illustrated as both a blissful and fearful element to the man: blissful because he will now rest his tired self from the pressures and hardships that he had experienced in this world, and fearful because he is still haunted by the unaccomplished tasks he has yet to do in his life. Thus, the poem ends with a good resolution on the man's part, and it seems that his dream had given him understanding and enlightenment in life: "Long sleep, as I describe its coming on / Or just some human sleep." This statement shows how he is willing to die or live, whatever the circumstances and fate permit him. Also, the man had understood that life here on earth is just a journey, a 'human sleep' we all must wake up to in order to sleep a longer sleep in peace, with no worries and regrets in life. Thus, death in "After Apple-Picking" is illustrated as both a good and fearful element in a mortal man's life.

The last poem, "Fire and Ice," is a brief poem that describes how the poet contemplates his life 'after death.' In this poem, hell and heaven are represented by fire and ice, respectively. The poet gives two faces of life after death: one that is the result of a life lived in sin (fire), and the other as death caused by natural or scientific causes (ice). This distinction between fire and ice, or hell and heaven, and the poet's preference of the 'apocalypse' (end of the world) coming in fire, and then preferring its coming in ice, shows how fire is represented by sins, and that the poet, upon preferring/choosing the fire 'apocalypse,' admits to his readers that he is a sinful individual. Preferring fire to ice is an easy decision to make for the poet because as he said, he has lived a life of sin here on earth ("From what I've tasted of desire"). His shift to choosing ice over fire shows how he abstains his self from his sins, how he would like to be given a second chance, even in death or after death, to die on ice 'apocalypse,' and not on fire 'apocalypse,' wherein the people's sins continue to haunt people even after death. 'Fire and Ice" is a good example of the poet's contemplation of life after death, and shows a hint of moral issues in discussing this particular topic. Thus, in all three poems, death is represented in its unique, fearful, and even sorrowful way by using death as an element wherein human sorrow and regret is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Death in Robert Frost's Poems.  (2002, November 15).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/death-robert-frost-poems/3384920

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"Death in Robert Frost's Poems."  Essaytown.com.  November 15, 2002.  Accessed July 22, 2019.