After Apple Picking Summary Theme Questions Answers

The poem After Apple Picking written by Robert Frost is kind of monologue where an apple picker symbolically depicts the psychological significance of life and death, nature’s impact on human life and the the sense of incompleteness. Let’s see the summary analysis questions answers of the poem After Apple Picking to understand the poem in details. 

Summary of the poem After Apple Picking:

“After Apple Picking” is a kind of monologue. Here the apple picker himself speaks. The poem begins with a description of the apple picker who has placed his two pointed ladder to a tree and he is almost sleepy as he picks apples. One barrel that he cannot fill.

He is not only tired of Picking apple but the scent of the picked apples has induced sleep in him so that he cannot work any longer even if he so desired. To him, it appears that all the objects of Nature which had been familiar suddenly take on a strange appearance and even if he tries to remove this strangeness he cannot do it. As he has been engaged in apple picking, he feels as if he had fallen into a trance and starts dreaming.

The apple picker is however, not able to tell anyone what particular form his dream will take. But he knows that the apples that look to be magnified and enlarged appear and disappear. He feels as if hus ladder is the means by which he used to climb on the trees for apple picking. But now it is being used swayed to and fro just as the branches begin to bend when the wind blows. Then he says that from the cellar bin, he keeps on hearing the rumbling of load of apples coming in.

The apple picker feels that too much of apple picking has made him extremely tired and sleepy. He wishes that the harvest of apples will be bumper and when his desire is fulfilled, he feels that he has become tired owing to too much labour.

There are ten thousand apple fruits before him and it is difficult for him not to allow any of them to fall down from his hands. The apple picker does not know what kind of fruit he will be able to enjoy or experience. He cannot say whether this sleep is like the long sleep of the woodchuck or just human sleep. 

After Apple Picking Poem:

After Apple Picking

Robert Frost

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 bought.

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 from 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 fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all

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 wood chuck could say whether it’s like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

Critical Analysis of After Apple Picking:

“After Apple Picking” is a remarkable nature poem. The poem has a very fine descriptive scenes and sights of Nature and at the same time is full of images and symbolism. Moreover, it has rich symbolic significance. 
In this poem, Frost’s descriptive power is at its best.

The apple picker who is the speaker smells the scent of apples; he senses the strangeness of the world as it seems to the overtired worker. The apple picker is overcome with irresistible sleepiness and the entire landscape and the scenery around him assume a sense of mystery and strangeness seems to fill his eye which he cannot rub. As he drowses, narrative of the eyes skimmed from the trough gets mixed with dream.

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There is a kind of confusion of the senses. It is a kind of self-hypnosis and dreamy confusion. It is suggested in the image of the hoary grass. The scent, sight and sleep blend and are blurred in sleep. The poet gives the colour effect by referring to hoary (greyish white) and russet (brown colour). 

In the dream of the apple picker, the ladder seems to sway as the wind blows. Apples falling in the cellar bin rumble and the apple picker in his dream hears the rumbling. He desires a rich harvest and he keeps every apple in affection in his hand. 

The last three lines of the poem suggests the sense of fulfilment and there is enchanting beauty of the rhythm. Pre-sleep and sleepy remembrance of the day are rendered with subtle dreamlike images and enchanting rhythm. 

The poem is rich with symbolism. The concrete experience of apple-picking is communicated firmly and realistically, but the poem invites a metaphysical extension. The task of apple picking is the task of life. The drowsiness which the picker feels after the completion of the task is associated with the cycle of the seasons. Harvesting is done in autumn and it anticipates winter. 

The apple picker is an artist and his illusion is broken when he says that the apples he has picked will be put on the cider press for apple juice and wine. The apple picker renews the suggestion that his sleepiness may not be ordinary human sleep like the hibernation of animals. It may be a ‘long sleep’. 

Theme of the poem After Apple Picking:

Sense of Completeness: 

The theme of ‘Ripeness is all’ is very gracefully suggested in the poem. The poem opens with an atmosphere heavy with ripeness of maturity and consequently with a sense of fatigue caused by the toil of apple picking. While picking apples and putting them into the basket, the poet’s mind is captured with a feeling of satisfaction that makes him think that the task of apple picking has been complete though the basket is not filled yet.
Life and Death: 

The prevailing theme of the poem, “After Apple Picking” is life and death. The evening time in the poem clearly hints towards the decline of life that ultimately leads towards death. The narrator cannot say whether his sleep will be the long sleep of death or just human sleep. The poem suggests that the sleep is like the sleep of death. Death may be considered as something eminently natural, as a sense of fulfilment and a sense of something well done.
Impact of Nature: 

The poem is a remarkable Nature poem. The poem has a very fine descriptive scenes and sights of Nature. The drowsiness which the picker feels after the completion of the task is associated with the cycle of seasons in Nature. Harvesting is done in autumn and it anticipates in winter.

Lines by Lines Explanation 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 bought. But I am done with apple-picking now.”
Ans: In these lines the apple picker speaks about his condition of pre-sleep and post-sleep condition. The dramatic setting and initial commitment in tone characterize pre-sleep and sleepy reminiscence of the condition. The speaker’s first words show what the dreamy talk would take. A ladder with two points on either side sticks to a tree and the ladder rises upward towards the top of the tree. He has to pick all the apples of the tree.

But gradually he is exhausted and sleepy. He could not fill barrel. Even he could not pick apples from some branches of the tree. He is now thoroughly exhausted and spent up by his being very busy in apple picking. The entire atmosphere is laden with sleepiness. He now sees the apples vaguely through his sleepy eyes. 

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.

Ans: The apple picker describes what happens to him and to the apple orchard when he feels tired and sleepy. It is the memory of experience that the reader absorbs it physically. There is a heavy atmosphere of sleepiness for the apple-picker is sleepy. Things are seen through the tired condition of the apple picker. He senses the strangeness of the atmosphere as he is over-tired.

The apple picker feels as if he were being overcome with strangeness of atmosphere because of his sleepiness. All familiar objects take on a strange appearance. It is not possible for the apple picker to remove this sense of strangeness. As he drowses off, the ice skimmed from the trough gets mixed with dream because his senses are confused.

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In his drowsiness of senses, the place appears greyish white. The scent, sight and sleep blend and are blurred by sleep. 

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.”

Ans: Here the confused memory of the sleepy apple picker communicates his feeling. In sleep apples appear magnified and enlarged. They stand as symbols of great dreamlike spheres. The precise details – stem and blossom are blurred. The ladder sways and the wind blows. Every dot of brown colour seems clear. The upper surface of foot between knees and ankles feels the pain but keeps the pressure of the ladder. 

“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.”

Ans: The poet uses the metaphor of sleep and the elevation of sight through confused strangeness of sleep. In the dream confusion, the apple picker hears the loads of apples that he has picked. The rumbling sound of the loads of apples is heard in his confused and overtired senses. He feels in his confused memory that he had picked ten thousand fruits, keeping his affection and do not let fall any apple that will strike the earth. 

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, Or just some human sleep

Ans: The apple picker in his confused memory in sleep could see the loads of apple that he has picked. He did not let any apple fall. Any of the apples is not wounded or struck with stone. They are held in affection. He knows that they would press in the cider press but he does not care. His task is only to pick apples. The apple picker has the strangeness of sleep. The non-human death like sleep adds to the strangeness of sleep.

The poem states a condition where real and unreal appear and disappear. It is the dream reality. The apple picker cannot say what sleep he has whatever may be the condition of his sleep. It may be sleep of death but he has a sense of fulfilment, a sense of something we’ll done.

Thus, the apple picker is satisfied with the task of that is given to him for his livelihood. He has not only done his duty but he has a sense of fulfilment because he has cherished the loads of apple in affection. He does not care what form his sleep is – human sleep or non-human death like sleep. 

After Apple Picking Poem Questions Answers 

1. What does the poet see in his dreams?

Ans: As the apple picker has been engaged in apple-picking, he feels as if he had fallen into a trance and he starts dreaming. The apple picker is, however, not able to tell anyone what particular form his dream will take. But he sees in his dream that the apples look magnified and enlarged, sometimes appear and disappear. 

2. Why can’t the poet rub strangeness from his sight?

Ans: The poem begins with a description of the apple picker who is not only tired of apple picking but the scent of the picked apples has induced sleep in him so that he cannot work any longer even if he so desired. To him, it appears that all objects of Nature which had been familiar suddenly take a strange appearance and even if he tries to remove this strangeness he cannot do it. The poet is too much exhausted that even he woke up in the next morning, he is still unable to rub strangeness. 

3. What does the word ‘sleep’ suggest in the poem?

Ans: The word ‘sleep’ has two meanings in the poem. At first, it is a normal sleep of human which helps to overcome from tiredness. The second type of sleep is long sleep like a woodchuck. The speaker here knows that his sleep will be different from the hibernation of natural features during winter. It will be a disturbed sleep, disturbed by remembrance of unfulfilled aspirations that mark the human sleep from that of ‘Nature’.

4. What does empty barrel signify?

Ans: The empty barrel signifies the unfulfilled human desires. The apple picker sees magnified apples in his dream. The magnified apples suggest the human’s unbound lust which can never be satisfied. Sometimes, one may feel exhausted to fulfill his dreams but ultimately something is yet to be done. Thus, the empty barrel suggests a sense of incompleteness. 

5. What are the symbols used in the poem After Apple Picking?

Ans: It may say that the rich symbolism of the poem communicates the poetic wisdom. The poem suggests that the sleep is like the sleep of death. Death may be considered as something eminently natural. In his sleep, the apple picker sees magnified and enlarged apples. They stands as symbols of great dreamlike spheres. The poem having a rich symbolic connotation that correlates the task of apple picking to the task of gathering experience in this world.

Besides, apple picking takes place during an autumnal day which suggests that the light of the day will be eclipsed by nocturnal darkness and autumn will be replaced by desolation and darkness of winter. Thus, the poem bears the symbol of life and death itself. 

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