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Analysis Of 'After Apple Picking'

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 898 words Published: 5th May 2017

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Robert Frost is arguably one of the best poets in the history of the world. He was raised in rural New England and started writing poetry early in his life. Frost’s poetry is laced with imagery and fraught with sadness, probably because of the depression and anxiety that plagued him throughout his life. He had been writing for some time when he wrote After Apple Picking in 1914.On the surface, it is about being tired after gathering a harvest of apples, but it actually carries much deeper meaning. People have many different ideas on what the poem is actually about, but the most prevalent (and socially acceptable) by far is that it is a reflection on Frost’s life and the things left undone that haunt his memories. Frost uses many of the common elements of poetry, especially connotation, imagery, and flow (meter and diction) in an extraordinary way to convey deep feelings of contemplation and subtle remorse for things left undone to the reader.

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The poem almost entirely consists of connotation from first to last. The apples represent things he’s done in life, and the act of apple-picking represents living and doing those things. When Frost is thinking about the apples he as picked and the ones still left on the tree he is talking about things he has left undone or unsaid and those things cannot be shaken from his memory. He dwells on them as he goes to sleep, and insists to himself that he is “done with apple-picking now” but he still cannot forget them as he drifts off into the “winter sleep” of death. When he talks about looking at icy grass through the ice off the top of the trough, he is referring to looking through the cold desensitized lens of time at memories that are covered with the icy knowledge that they are over, and “winter” is near. The ache of his instep arch is an ache indeed, but not one of the heart rather than the foot and it is sore from navigating through life on the “ladder”. Nearly everything in the poem is a connotation to something else and helps to convey the overall mood.

Nearly as ubiquitous and just as effective in conveying the point of the author is imagery. Frost starts using imagery in the first two lines of the poem, when he talks about his ladder in the tree “reaching toward heaven still”. This provides an image of a long ladder stretching into a barren tree, seeming to be reaching to the sky, symbolic of death and the afterlife. This gives a visual representation or comparison for the long yet abruptly ending path of life reaching past experience and the sweetness of joy (represented by the apples) into the unknown and seemingly desolate realm of death. The next particularly outstanding piece of imagery begins in line 9 with “I cannot rub this strangeness from my sight”, giving a picture of an undefeatable blur clouding your vision (or thoughts), a feeling of drowsiness unshakable and slipping into oblivion. He goes on to explain how he looked through a piece of ice at the world and it changed his perception, giving a picturesque thought of the world, nearly frozen it time in Frost’s thoughts, until he lets them slip away, shattering as he falls into a hazy contemplation. Both of these examples of imagery contribute to the author’s desired effect of conveying a meditative mood of reflection.

Though the use of imagery does create a certain mood, only when combined with Frost’s expert use of meter and diction does it gain the proper flow necessary to facilitate the conveyance of the author’s disparaging tone. The poem is generally written in a loose iambic pentameter, but Frost inputs lines that are much shorter than the rest to break the flow, such as when “But I was well” in line 14 cuts through the gentle lulling ebb and flow of the previous several lines. The entire poem is given the feel of one who is trying to stay awake but slowly slipping away into a fitful uneasy sleep they are constantly jerking into awareness from by use of this method. This effect is contributed greatly to by the choice of words used throughout such as the word “russet” in line 20’s “And every speck of russet showing clear”. The word russet indicates the precise colors of the leaves in fall (the time before Winter, usually used to indicate a coming death or emptiness) and reminisces of rust (the fading of what was once strong over time). Really, most of the significant words in the poem have some degree of significance to them and were meticulously chosen over dozens of other ways to say the same thing because of this.

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Frost collectively uses connotation, imagery, and flow to convey his message with an expert hand and a smooth tongue. The entire poem is a connotation for the larger theme of death and passing memories, and each element of the first corresponds to a particular aspect in a symbolic representation. Imagery is used to create a picture in the mind of the reader with the intent of creating emotion, and in a way unlike nearly any other poet, Frost does so effectively and beautifully. He writes the poem in a way that flows like thoughts and emotion in the mind and creates the feelings it imitates. In all of these ways, Robert Frost eloquently conveys his desired message to the reader.


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