English Poem After Apple Picking (Robert Frost) Important Questions
Questions No 1. Bring out the literary merits of the poem “After Apple Picking” by Robert Frost. Or Write the Critical Appreciation of the Poem.
Ans. The poem “After Apple Picking” is a master-piece of Robert Frost. In this poem he mingles the world of reality with the world of dream or imagination in a very exquisite way. He presents a human feeling up-to its entire limit. The feeling is that of being tired or fatigued up-to the last extant. The poet is so dead tired that he cannot continue his work of apple-picking anymore. He is, therefore, going to sleep. He does not even bother about the nature of sleep he is going to have or about the dreams he may have during his sleep. He simple wishes to go to sleep! He is going to sleep at any cost!
The poet presents a commonplace theme is this poem but goes on to make it special with the magic touch of his poetic imagination. He has been collecting/picking apples. He has had a bumper-crops of apples, just as he has desired and prayed for, as he says:
“There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand ….”
but he has got tired after having picked apples continuously for sometime. The scent of apples joined with the great fatigue has induced a strange type of sleep over him. He is feeling drowsy. And, even before falling asleep, he knows that he is going to dream about loads and loads of magnified apples and hear the noise of falling apples during his sleep.
He feels a great “attack” of sleep. He is going to lose his hold upon his conscious self and as he hopes to fall asleep, he doesn’t even bother what type of sleep he is going to have. It may be an ordinary human sleep; it may be a long dormant sleep like that of wood-chuck; it may be even the final sleep of death. All these possibilities are suggested but the poet leaves the question of the nature of his sleep to be answered by the readers as they like. As “normal” reader of the poem, the writer of these notes hopes that he is going to enjoy a “normal” human sleep.
The subject matter of the poem has been presented in the realistic fashion but with a color of imagination hovering over the reality. The poem is about an aspect of man’s life, common man’s life, but is has been made romantic by the treatment of the poet. The magic hand of the poet has turned a common, matter-of-fact, subject into an alluring and fascination one. We cannot help but praise the ingenuity and skill of the art of the poet.
The imagery used in the poem is common but exhaustive. The words are full of emotion as well as audio-visual pictures, such as:
“…. long two pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Towards heaven still” (line 1-2)
“Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end” (line 18-19)
“I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend” (line 23)
“I keep hearing …..
The rumbling sound” (line 24-25)
” … Ten thousand thousand fruit” (line 30)
We begin smelling something when we read:
“Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples … ” (line 7-8)
We begin seeing the color clearly when we read:
” … every flack of russet … ” (line 20)
We begin feeling drowsy when we need:
” … I am drowsing off
I cannot rub the strangeness from my eyes” (line 8-9)
” … I am overtired” (line 28)
The poem is good specimen of narrative verse. Its rhythm is subtle and sublime. The lines do not have a fixed number of feet/syllables. The varying number of feet/syllables gives the effect of a drowsiness. Just as a man, who is just going to sleep, feels consciousness and unconsciousness turn by turn, the lines of the poem become long and short turn by turn. Line no. 14 consists only of 4 syllables. The same is the case with line no. 16, line no. 36 and line no. 39 (all of which consists of 4 syllables). Line no. 27 has 6 syllables and line no. 32, only 2 syllables. Some of the longer lines are no. 1, 11, 30 and 40. Lines no. 14, 16, 27, 32, 36 and 39 have totally monosyllable words. The poem, we may say, has a drowsy meter/rhythm, with no fixed feet. Still there is rhyme present in the poem. Almost every line rhymes with the next second or third line.
The poem is a good example of turning the dull daily routine of life into a charming picture. We may see the dullness and heaviness of routine work in this poem as we see it in a sweet manner given in the poem “Women Work” by Maya Angelou. Frost wishes to go to sleep even if the sleep is the dormant sleep of the woodchuck and Maya wishes to lose and find herself in nature:
Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star-shine, moon glow
You’re all that I can call my own.
Question No 2. “After Apple Picking” by Robert Frost us a great nature-lyric: do you agree?
Ans. It is correct to say that Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking” is a great nature-lyric. Frost is, in his own way, a poet of nature. Here he gives a graphic picture of a farmer, an apple picket, who had desired a bumper-crop but has now become dead-tired of picking the apples. When we go through the poem, we find it full of “apple-scent” and the “essence of winter night” that is in the air. The reddish brown color of the apples is visualized by us. The poem is a great nature-lyric giving an account of a simple pastoral activity – the apple-picking. But Frost always writes things having different layers of understanding and the same is the case with this poem.
On the outset, the poem presents a picture of a drowsy man. But if look deeply into the matter, we find that the poem (like “Lights Out” by Edward Thomas) has a deeper meaning, too. The sleep may be a symbol of death. When death comes, one has to leave all his duties, works and daily routines, however important and noble one may be thinking them. So the garden/orchard becomes the physical world, the apple-tree becomes the individual human life and the sleep becomes death. The story of the farmer becomes the story of every man.
The description of the apple-tress, the apples and all the frosty scene of the evening are full of sensuous existence. All this shows that the poem is a profound nature-lyric by Robert Frost.