After Apple-Picking


After Apple-Picking

In the poem "After Apple-Picking", Robert Frost has cleverly disguised many symbols and allusions to enhance the meaning of the poem. One must understand the parallel to understand the central theme of the poem. The apple mentioned in the poem could be connected to the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden. It essentially is the beginning of everything earthly and heavenly, therefore repelling death. To understand the complete meaning of Frost's poem one needs to be aware that for something to be dead, it must have once had life. Though this is not the central theme in this poem, Frost's symbolic use of the apple makes this concept equally as important. Life and death are common themes in poetry, but this poem focuses on what is in between, life's missed experiences and the regret that the speaker is left with.

The dictionary definition of regret is, sorrow caused by something beyond one's power to remedy. This seems to be the state of our speaker, for he states reflectively, "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". We have established that the apple represents both life and death, and in this instance may we go even further and say that these particular apples represent life experiences, these experiences were missed. Or perhaps knowledge that was not gained, but was desired. The barrels are empty, and seeing this, regret is felt. Nevertheless, "but I am done with apple-picking now", tells us that our speaker feels he can no longer remedy the empty barrels. He is now at a reflecting point for he tells us that he dreams "magnified apples appear and disappear, stem end and blossom end, and every fleck of russet showing clear". Through this passage we see that he is reflecting back on his life. Some experiences are clearer than others. Perhaps some are more significant now than they were at the time. By "stem end and blossom end", we see that our speaker feels he has examined the experiences thoroughly and can now see the "russet" parts of the skin, or the bruises on the apples, the bruises meaning mistakes made.

The reason for the reflection is evident when the speaker says, "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". From this it seems that our speaker has caught a glimpse of his reflection in the "drinking trough" and has noticed that the reflection was "hoary", or gray with age. This reflection seems to not only depict his age, but also his regret. It is as if the speaker sees more than just himself in the reflection in the drinking trough. He seems to be seeing visions of his life. "There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall". Our speaker seems to be seeing all of his chances, or opportunities. The reverence in which he speaks of them, the word "cherish", and the actions described give us the sense that the speaker is suddenly now, in reflection, realizing how important this "fruit" was. In the next instance he states that "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". The bruises on the fruit represent the mistakes or misused chances, maybe even failure, but the fact that these bruised apples went "to the cider-apple heap as of no worth" seems to be an epiphany to our speaker. He is just now realizing that though these apples were bruised, cider still came from them. It is clear to him now that they went "as of no worth", only because he did not know that even mistakes have worth, even if just to learn from them.

The reason for the speaker's sudden surge of regret seems to be looming death, for he states in the very first line, "My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree toward heaven still". This reference to heaven is the first evidence that the speaker thinks he is going to die. At this