‘After Apple-Picking’ is one of the most celebrated and admired poems of the American poet Robert Frost. It first appeared in his collection ‘North of Boston’ in 1923.
The poem describes the melancholic exhaustion after the intense and long labor of apple-picking. Fusing the pastoral and the poetic, the poem bears the Frostian signature of bringing out metaphoric depth from simple imageries.
The poem has no certain rhyme scheme. The lines rhyme in a varied manner.
The poem begins with a technical description of the farming process of apple. The two-pointed ladder which is used to climb upon an apple tree to pick apple is kept alongside a barrel that is yet to be filled.
The exhaustion of the speaker is clear who doesn’t care about how many apples are lying around which are not picked yet. So, he says that he is done with apple-picking.
The season is winter. The speaker describes how the scent of apples is everywhere in such winter nights. The exhaustion from the labor of apple picking has made the speaker existential.
He is unable to rub the strangeness from his sight which he has got from looking through a pane of glass which he found from the drinking trough. The attitude here is that of carelessness which comes from extended exhaustion.
Line 14 – 29
The speaker is completely tired and sleepy now. He is so sleepy that he is almost in a dreamy state. Looking at apples for so long has put a magnified apple in his dreams too.
Even in his dream, he can now only see the stem and blossom and types of apples. He describes the act of picking. He can clearly listen to the sound of loads of apples coming into the cellar bin.
But then, he is overtired. He desired to harvest apple so much but one gets tired of one’s desire too. The speaker is simply tired of the labor which comes with harvesting. It speaks of the human tendency of getting tired of even what they love and desire the most.
The number of apples to be harvested is simply too much. There are thousands of apples to be touched and cherished. The vast number has rendered them almost worthless.
So, the falling apples go surely to the cider-apple heap as of no worth. Frost makes the whole poem sound like a dream when he says like he is describing all this from a dream in a dream.
The woodchuck is a rodent found in that region. The speaker compares his sleep after exhaustion to that of his long sleep and questions whether it is going to be human sleep or not.