Symbolism in After Apple Picking Essay

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Symbolism in "After Apple Picking"

Robert Frost, in his poem "After Apple-Picking," uses many different symbols and metaphors to describe the final moment of a man falling asleep or, perhaps even dying. On the surface, the poem is a simple reflection of a day spent picking apples in an orchard, but Frost uses his images, descriptions and objects to convey a much deeper message.

The free verse poem is divided into two long stanzas, and the mood changes significantly between the first and second section. In the first stanza, the speaker is reflecting upon his life's work, perhaps as an apple farmer, but more likely as a poet or other artist. His ladder is now pointed "toward heaven still," a powerful symbol that evokes the end of the speaker's life. There is a partially empty barrel (3) and, perhaps, "two or three apples" (4/5) that the speaker never got around to picking. The apples are not real apples, of course -- they are symbolic of his life's work. The barrel isn't full because his work is not complete, and the apples left on the bough are going to be left unpicked. He cannot finish his work before his "winter sleep," his death (7).

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The speaker's visions are not clear, as he is stuck between that eery space between wakefulness and sleep, life and death. His vision has been cloudy all day, beginning when he picked up a piece of ice from his drinking trough and looked through its crooked reflection out onto his field, his life. When he falls into sleep, his dream is of his life's work, "magnified apples" dancing before him (18). He sees them clearly, perhaps more clearly than he has before. They are magnified, so much so that he can see "every fleck of russet showing clear" (20). The stanza ends with the image of him standing on the ladder, feeling the weight of himself and his work on the ladder rungs on his feet -- his work has made, literally, an impression upon him. The feeling of apple-picking never leaves. The symbology at the end of the stanza, though, begins the shift in mood. The ladder is swaying, and the boughs bend, neither of which is a sign of good things to come.

Essay on Symbolism in After Apple Picking Assignment

The second stanza of Frost's poem shows the speaker feeling overwhelmed by the work which he has been unable to complete. As he falls into sleep, he keeps "hearing from the cellar bin/the rumbling sound/of load on load of apples coming in" (24… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Symbolism in After Apple Picking" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Symbolism in After Apple Picking.  (2010, November 16).  Retrieved October 25, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Symbolism in After Apple Picking."  16 November 2010.  Web.  25 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Symbolism in After Apple Picking."  November 16, 2010.  Accessed October 25, 2020.